The blitzkrieg from Oakland to start both halves forced Valparaiso to play from behind for the duration of the contest.
A consistent game flow was hard to come by in a tightly called first half. Both the Crusaders and Golden Grizzlies lived at the free throw line, with Valparaiso attacking through the post, and Oakland attacking the rim from the wing. The pace of the game picked in the second half as Oakland took control early and never looked back. Paced by the scoring of their perimeter and defensive prowess, the Golden Grizzlies held Alec Peters (20 points, 11 rebounds, four assists) and the Crusaders in check.
Oakland can beat you with several offensive styles
The strength of the Golden Grizzlies is evident in their defensive tenacity, as they use that to generate points in transition and off of turnovers. They do an exceptional job of hitting ahead after a steal for quick run-out layups. They also have solid post play in Jalen Hayes and Xavier Hill-Mais. They have good guards and wings who are good at getting into the paint on the dribble drive, and use their athleticism to get to the mid-range or the rim. Although they didn't shoot it particularly well from the three-point line in the first half, Oakland found its touch in the second. The Golden Grizzlies were 5-10 from distance in the final 20 minutes.
Defense, Defense, and Defense
Oakland displayed its strong defensive personally throughout the game, in particular giving Peters several different looks to keep him off balance. They doubled immediately, brought double teams after a dribble or two, fronted him, and crowded him when he looked for his face-up game. Oakland played excellent transition defense, was active on the perimeter, really got up in the passing lanes, and attacked with strong ball pressure when defending on ball.
The game belonged to Martez Walker
Martez Walker was magnificent for the Golden Grizzlies. He finished with 25 points on 8-14 shooting, including 4-8 from beyond the arc. Every time Valparaiso looked to make a run, Walker made a clutch shot to keep his team in front. He plays both ends of the floor and showed his versatility on offense, both as a shooter and slasher.
Oakland will look to continue its defensive mindset on Jan. 8 at Illinois Chicago at 5 p.m., while Valparaiso will host Detroit the same day at noon.