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Oakland Is Headed Back To The Big Dance

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(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

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SIOUX FALLS S.D. — Keith Benson and Reggie Hamilton showed off the offensive prowess of Oakland, Michigan.

Benson scored 28 points and Hamilton had 26 points to lead the Golden Grizzlies to a 90-76 victory against Oral Roberts 90-76 on Tuesday night to repeat as the Summit League champion and clinch a berth in the NCAA tournament.

The top-seeded Golden Grizzlies (25-9) put the game out of reach by outscoring Oral Roberts 24-5 in a stretch to lead 84-64 with 4:26 left.

Hamilton had 12 points and Benson eight in the outburst.

“Last year we made our living on defending and rebounding,” coach Greg Kampe said. “This year it’s a team of runs, and this team can score.”

Benson, the Summit League’s player of the year, added 14 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.

Dominique Morrison led No. 2 seed Oral Roberts (19-15) with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Oral Roberts responded to the first of two Oakland scoring runs, but ran out of time and energy on the final one.

Oral Roberts led early and again with 13:14 left in the game. But it didn’t last long. Hamilton made a 16-footer and Benson hit two free throws for a 60-57 lead and the Golden Grizzlies hung on for the victory.

Leading 60-59, Oakland went on an 11-0 run. The Golden Grizzlies led by 20 with 4:25 left.

“We just knew we had to stay strong and play our game,” said Benson, a 6-foot-11 senior chosen as the most valuable player in the tournament. “We had to withstand their run and make our own.”

Oakland had two big scoring runs in the first half.

Hamilton scored six consecutive points and had an assist on Will Hudson’s basket that put Oakland up 19-8 with 13:54 left before halftime. The Golden Grizzlies were 8 of 13 from the field at that point.

Oral Roberts countered with a scoring run. Ken Holdman had a pair of 3-pointers and Steven Roundtree had two field goals that allowed the Golden Eagles to tie the score at 23.

Then Oakland scored 14 consecutive points — Benson had eight in the run — to put Oakland ahead 41-25 before Oral Roberts trimmed the deficit to a dozen points at halftime.

“I think tonight you saw what I’ve been talking about for a long time,” Kampe said. “Oral Roberts came out and gave us a good shot, came after us in the first half after we had a double-digit lead … and we got back up by 17 or 18 and in the second half, they came back to take the lead … but we went right back to 20.

“That’s the type of team we are. When your best players are your leaders and hardest workers, you’re going to win games.”

Oakland shot 52 percent and had seven turnovers to 46 percent shooting and 14 turnovers for Oral Roberts.

It was the third consecutive appearance in the title game for Oakland.

The championship game for Oral Roberts came after a season slump that had the Golden Eagles lose eight of nine games in one stretch.

“This team came a long way,” Oral Roberts coach Scott Sutton said. “We were not a very good basketball team back in November, December. The way we played the last five, six weeks we certainly were a good basketball team and we got beat by a great team tonight.”

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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