FLINT, Michigan — Zero was the hero for the second consecutive game, as no. 2-ranked Mott snapped no. 12-ranked Oakland’s 11-game winning streak on Saturday afternoon, 71-66.
Malik Albert’s choice for a jersey number is probably the only peculiar thing about his game; everything else is pretty spectacular. Albert, a former Detroit King High School standout guard, lit up Oakland for 21 points, four steals, three assists and only one turnover. Much like his 18-point performance in a rough-and-tumble road victory over St. Clair on Wednesday night, Albert came through in the clutch.
“This is the player I recruited,” said Mott head coach Steve Schmidt. “It doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s a big-time player, and he’s still adjusting; he’s only going to get better.”
Albert led Mott to a 14-4 lead early in the first half before Schmidt called on his reserves to give some solid minutes to spell the starters. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way for Mott. The Bears frittered away their double-digit lead before Albert and the starters returned and notched it back up to as many as 16.
Mott (16-1) led 35-26 at the half with Oakland (12-4) guard Aaron Hayes on the bench for most of the half with three fouls.
The second half was all about actions and reactions, as Oakland slowly chipped away at Mott’s lead. Twice in the half the Raiders, led by sophomores James Chappell and Kallante Miller, actually tied the game — once in the final three minutes.
“I like this Oakland team,” Schmidt said. “They play hard and they’re athletic. We’ve seen teams from all over the country at the national tournament over the years, and Oakland is better than many of them. It’s a testament to the quality of our league.”
Mott’s leading scorer Fred Mattison turned in another quality performance, pouring in 16 points with 13 rebounds. Chavis Mattison added 15 points and seven rebounds.
Mott’s 6-foot-9 freshman Coreontae DeBerry scored seven points in only eight minutes of play. After the game, Schmidt said he regretted not playing him more in the second half.
“It’s a work in progress both ways,” he said. “I didn’t do a very good job getting him in there in the second half … I should’ve gone to him. I don’t fault him; he’s improving and he gave us a good effort.”
Schmidt was also disappointed with his team’s carelessness with the ball against Oakland, giving it up 22 times.
“That has to be the most this season, so I’m disappointed,” he said. “Some of our freshman, in particular, had some mental lapses.”
Chappell and Miller led Oakland with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Hayes added 10 points in 23 minutes of play.
Mott returns to action on Wednesday night at Kirtland CC in the Great White North of Michigan.