ROCHESTER, Mich. - The Oakland women's basketball team will begin a three-game homestand on Saturday as they host Youngstown State in a Horizon League contest starting at 3 p.m. in the Athletics Center O'rena. The game will be aired live on TV20 and also on ESPN3.
LAST TIME OUT
The Golden Grizzlies fell to 2-2 in Horizon League play after a 73-62 loss at the University of Detroit Mercy on Thursday. Sinclair Russell scored a career-high 16 points and Elena Popkey added 15 points in the Metro Series contest.
INSIDE THE SERIES
The Golden Grizzlies are 6-5 all-time against the Penguins with the teams splitting the regular season series last season, but YSU knocked out Oakland of the Horizon League Tournament, 68-64, in Youngstown.
The second-place Penguins enter the game coming off a 75-70 win against Wright State on Thursday and improved to 3-1 in league play. YSU set a school record with 11 non-conference wins this season and are currently ranked 29th in the RPI. Youngstown State is led by Heidi Schlegel who ranks in the top-10 in the league in both points (15.4) and rebounds (9.6).
TAKING CARE OF THE ROCK
The Golden Grizzlies pride themselves on taking care of the ball and it has shown on the court this season as they rank 83rd in the NCAA in turnover margin, 90th in turnovers per game and 47th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Oakland is also 40th in assists per game. Peyton Apsey is first in the Horizon League with a 2.3 assist-to-turnover ratio, good for 24th in the NCAA, while Elena Popkey is fifth and 73rd in the NCAA with a 1.9 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Olivia Nash is tied for third in the Horizon League with six double-doubles already this season. She was named Horizon League Player of the Week on Dec. 29 after recording back-to-back double-doubles against IPFW and Central Michigan, averaging 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds over the two-game stretch. Elena Popkey also tallied a double-double with 17 points and 12 assists against IPFW. The 12 assists was the first double-digit assist performance by an Oakland player since 2010. Sinclair Russell collected her second-ever double-double against Milwaukee setting career-highs with 15 points and 15 boards. Nola Anderson tallied her first career double-double at Valpo with 17 points and career-best 12 rebounds.
1,000 POINT CLUB
Juniors Elena Popkey and Olivia Nash are closing in on passing the 1,000 point mark this season and becoming the 26th and 27th players in Oakland history to earn the distinction. Popkey currently sits at 941 points with a career average of 12.4 points per game, followed closely by Nash with 850 points with a career scoring average of 12.3 points per game. They would become the first pair of teammates since Jayme Wilson and Anne Hafeli during the 2004-05 season to reach 1,000 points in the same season.
DE-FENSE! CLAP! CLAP!
Oakland boasts one of the best defensive teams in the Horizon League. The Golden Grizzlies rank 26th in 3-point field-goal defense, 19th in defensive rebounds and 85th in steals in the NCAA. Oakland has collected 30 or more defensive rebounds in 10 of 18 games this season. Sinclair Russell is third in the Horizon League and 102nd in the NCAA in blocks per game with 1.6.
Oakland is celebrating two milestone seasons in 2014-15. This marks the 40th year of women's basketball at Oakland as head coach Kathy Williams went 8-7 in the inaugural season back in 1974-75. This is also the 25th anniversary of the 1989-90 Division II Final Four team. That team won the GLIAC Championship with a 14-2 conference record. The then Pioneers won NCAA Tournament games over IPFW, St. Joseph's (Ind.) and snapped Central Missouri State's 55-game home winning streak before falling to Bentley in the national semifinal, 72-68.
COACH TUNGATE AT THE HELM
Jeff Tungate was named the head coach for the women's basketball team on July 16, 2013. He had spent the previous six seasons as the associate head coach for the men's basketball program and is going into his 10th season overall with the Golden Grizzlies. In 2014, Tungate received the inaugural Oakland Athletics Coach of the Year award. In his first season, Tungate led the Golden Grizzlies to its first non-losing season in league play since 2010-11. Oakland finished the season with a 8-8 record in its inaugural season in the Horizon League. He also implemented a new offense that averaged the most points per game since 2007-08 and the most total points in five seasons. He coached the first-ever All-Horizon League performers in Bethany Watterworth (2nd team) and Kim Bee (All-Defensive).
The Golden Grizzlies continue a three-game homestand on Thursday hosting Wright State beginning at 7 p.m. in the O'rena.