BAY CITY, Michigan — This is as early as Mott has begun the offseason in quite some time. The no. 5-ranked Bears ran into an Oakland CC squad Thursday night that couldn’t miss from the perimeter and couldn’t be kept out of the lane.
Oakland, ranked no. 6 in the national poll, shrugged off a late Mott run to win, 90-87.
The Raiders advance to Saturday’s district final at Delta College and will play for the right to represent District 10 in the NJCAA National Tournament in Danville, Illinois. Mott had one last chance to tie the game with five seconds left, but Malik Albert’s triple try was long.
Mott actually led the game by four at the half. Oakland made seven of six of seven attempts from 3-point range in the half and wrestled the lead away from Mott after a 9-0 run that spanned both halves.
The game ultimately turned on Mott’s inability to stop penetration to the basket and its failure to close out on open shooters. The Bears led by as many as nine points in the first half but, as always, the Raiders seemed to answer right away. A 5-0 run to end the half and two quick baskets to start the second half erased, in full, Mott’s lead.
The Bears were inside of four points twice in the final three minutes, but could not get stops when they needed them. Ironically, this inability to make stops hadn’t been a problem for Mott in recent weeks after some early-season struggles on the defensive end. It came back to haunt them in a big way Thursday night.
Oakland (28-3) shot 60 percent from the field as a team as 44 percent from 3-point range. Richard Roberts led Oakland with 28 points including seven 3-pointers. Jemetrius Wade added 20 for the Raiders.
Albert led all scorers with 31 points with eight rebounds on 10 for 17 from the field. Albert had 16 points and five dunks in the first half. Marcus Johnson and Ruston Hayward added 17 and 15 points, respectively.
Mott ends the season with a 25-6 record and without a trophy to put in the case. Certainly 25 wins would be a banner season for most programs, but for one with more banners than any other, it’s probably the worst season in a decade. For the first time since I’ve covered this program, this Mott team did not take on the character of its coach. The way Steve Schmidt coaches certainly won’t change, but I can guarantee his recruiting will.
In spite of a few games in the last couple weeks that seemed to indicate the Bears were turning a corner, this game brought back memories of Mott’s lack of urgency and intensity seen in their five regular season losses. My hunch is that next season’s squad will look more like the teams we remember, and not the performances fans are trying to forget.