Oakland 74, Western Illinois 57
TULSA, Okla. (AP)—Rick Billings led six Oakland players in double-figures with 14 points as the Golden Grizzlies beat Western Illinois 74-57 on Saturday night in the first round of the Mid-Continent Conference tournament.
Second-seeded Oakland (18-14) will play either Valparaiso or Missouri-Kansas City on Monday in the semifinals. The Crusaders will play the Kangaroos in a quarterfinal on Sunday.
Seventh-seeded Western Illinois cut the Golden Grizzlies’ lead to 12 three times in the second half, the last time on Louis Johnson’s basket with 3:46 left, but the Leathernecks could pull no closer.
David Jackson led Western Illinois (7-23) with 19 points. Johnson added 13 points off the bench.
The Golden Grizzlies took control from the opening tip, hitting their first six 3-point attempts, including four by Billings. Oakland went on a 23-4 run, capped by Erik Kangas’ 3-pointer with 4:36 left that made it 36-10, to take its largest lead.
The Leathernecks shot just 7-for-31 (22.6 percent) from the field in the first half, while Oakland went 14-of-22 (63.6 percent) while building a 41-19 halftime lead. Western Illinois finished 21-for-56.
Shawn Hopes scored 13 points, Vova Severovas and Derick Nelson had 12 each, Kangas had 11 and Johnathan Jones added 10 points for Oakland.