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Horizon League NCAA Division I Women's College Basketball

Oakland Advances, Detroit Mercy Falls in Day One of Motor City Madness

By Seth J. Walker

Detroit- Both local women’s basketball teams were in action in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament, with Oakland making it to day two and Detroit Mercy seeing its season end.

The seventh seeded Oakland Golden Grizzlies crushed the 10th seeded UIC Flames, 80-46 in the first game Friday afternoon.  The Golden Grizzlies outrebounded and outshot the Flames.  They had a 48-35 rebounding edge and outshot the Flames 45 percent to 27 percent for the game.  The Golden Grizzlies shot 67 percent in the third quarter.

The Golden Grizzlies grabbed their first Horizon League tournament win since joining the conference four seasons ago and their first conference tournament win period since 2011, when they were in the Summit League.

“We all came together at the perfect time,” Oakland senior guard Cierra Bond.  Junior guard Taylor Jones led the Golden Grizzlies with 20 points and added three steals.  Bond scored 19 and added four steals.  Senior guard Sha’Keya Graves had seven assists.

Junior guard Brittany Byrd led the Flames with 13 points while senior forward Gabryelle Johnson had 10 rebounds and three steals.

The Golden Grizzlies advance to the quarterfinals to face second seeded IUPUI Saturday afternoon at noon.

“We’ve got to find a way to not only score on our end, because they have a great defense, but their shooting percentages are unbelievable,” Oakland head coach Jeff Tungate said.

The 10th seeded Detroit Mercy Titans lost to the seventh seeded Northern Kentucky Norse in the next game, 76-61.  The Titans were unable to sustain a fast start, as they began to struggle shooting the ball.  The Norse also had a huge 53-22 rebounding edge, including a 24-2 advantage in offensive rebounds.

Lexey Tobel attempts a free throw the Titans. The freshman forward earned an All-Horizon League Freshman selection this season.

“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Norse head coach Camryn Whitaker said.

Despite the loss, which capped a very disappointing season, senior forward Nicole Urbanick is able to look back at the success she had in previous season as a Titan, especially last season’s run to the Horizon League Championship game.

“I’ve had a great four years here,” Urbanick said.  “We’ve had a lot of success even though this year isn’t really what we wanted, but I had a great experience overall.  I love being a Titan.”

The Norse advance to the quarterfinals to face top seeded Green Bay in the 2:30pm game.

“We don’t fear anyone, but we respect everyone,” Norse freshman forward Kailey Coffey said.  “We want to show them what we have and play our game and hopefully, we’ll like the result.”



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