AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — No. 3-ranked Mott lost its second straight road game on Saturday afternoon to Oakland, formerly the second-best team in the MCCAA. No. 15-ranked Oakland’s 79-68 win now puts the Raiders in the driver’s seat for the MCCAA Eastern Conference championship.
And it wasn’t a fluke.
Oakland controlled the pace of the game throughout, led by a career performance from sophomore forward Darius Stevens. The 6-foot-6 inside-outside threat came off the bench and scored a game-high 28 points on only 12 shot attempts. He also added eight rebounds. His was one of the better clutch performances I’ve seen at the JUCO level.
The Bears had no answer for Stevens down low and failed miserably to pick up the slack in the backcourt. The Bears’ starting guards, Malik Albert and Devin Foster, struggled throughout the game. Albert scored six points with seven turnovers and Foster managed only seven points with one assist. The pair combined to shoot 3-for-14 from the field.
Mott trailed by four at the break, but never got closer than three down in the second half. Oakland guards Aaron Hayes and Jamie Pearson combined for 31 points to take some of the pressure off the Raiders’ frontline players (Kallante Miller and James Chappell) and who were in foul trouble most of the half.
Mott (23-3) suffered through some serious lapses offensively, finishing the game with twice as many turnovers as assists. The Bears’ top guns, with the exception of sophomore Fred Mattison, once again failed to produce in a big spot on the road. Mattison poured in 21 points and 17 rebounds, but had little help. Mott’s 6-foot-9 freshman Coreontae DeBerry played sparingly and managed only two points with three rebounds and four turnovers.
One bright spot for Mott continues to be the solid play of freshman Chester McFadden. The 6-foot-4 shooter scored 13 points and actually started in the second half. Sophomore Kory Billups added 12 points.
Mott is now through the meat of its schedule, with only three games remaining against three of the four bottom feeders in the conference. Oakland (21-4) has four games remaining including a game on the road at Wayne February 28 that will, most likely, decide who represents the Eastern Conference in the state championship game.
Mott returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at home versus Kirtland.