ROCHESTER, Mich. - The Oakland women's basketball team will wrap up a three-game homestand on Saturday as the Golden Grizzlies host the Cleveland State Vikings inside the Athletics Center O'rena beginning at 3 p.m with the game broadcasted live on TV20. It is Alumni Day and Oakland will honor all returning women's basketball players from the last 40 seasons and give special recognition to the 25th anniversary of the 1989-90 Division II Final Four team.
LAST TIME OUT
The Golden Grizzlies dropped an offensive thriller to Wright State 108-89 on Thursday night inside the O'rena. Peyton Apsey recorded a career-high 23 points on a career-best five 3-pointers and Olivia Nash collected 21 points, her second-straight 20-point performance. Elena Popkey scored 17, including four triples, and Nola Anderson added 14 points. The 197 combined points is the most in an Oakland women's basketball game since 2004.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Oakland has defeated Cleveland State in all three matchups in the all-time series, including sweeping the Vikings last season, both victories by double digits.
Cleveland State enters the game tied with Oakland in the Horizon League standings with a 3-3 record. The Vikings are coming off a 67-58 victory over Milwaukee at home on Thursday. CSU boasts two of the highest scoring teammates in the league in Cori Coleman with 16.9 points per game, fourth in the Horizon League, and Imani Gordon with 15.7 points per contest, sixth in the league.
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 79th in the NCAA in turnover margin, 62nd in turnovers per game and 28th in assist-to-turnover ratio. Oakland is also 29th in assists per game. Peyton Apsey is second in the Horizon League with a 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, good for 33rd in the NCAA, while Elena Popkey is fourth and 48th in the NCAA with a 2.1 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 969 points with a career average of 12.4 points per game, followed closely by Nash with 891 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 50th in 3-point field-goal defense, 21st in defensive rebounds and 94th in steals in the NCAA, while Sinclair Russell is third in the Horizon League and 114th in the NCAA in blocks per game with 1.5.
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 will hit the road for a four-game stint beginning on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at Green Bay and Milwaukee on Friday, Feb. 6. The preseason Horizon League favorite Phoenix are currently first in the Horizon League standings, while Oakland will look for the season sweep of the Panthers.