On their homecourt in front of a large number of Oxford fans, the Eagles dominated from start to finish and with their 73-58 victory over Georgia Northwestern, Oxford advanced to the Region Championship game on Sunday.
“We got off to a very good start. Mark Walden and Wesley Anderson were extremely hot. Mark playing inside and Wes hitting his outside shots, we got off to a good start and then in the second half at some points we got out of control, but we finished up strong,” Coach Roderick Stubbs said.
“It’s always good to be able to play in a championship game. We’re gonna have a tough game [Sunday], the two teams that are playing in the semifinal game, either one of them can beat us on any given day. we’re gonna sit back just for a little bit, enjoy that and then we’re gonna come out and compete hard [Sunday],” he added.
Oxford won the tip and Mark Walden went right to work, scoring in the post to give the Eagles the first basket of the game.
Oxford took a 9-4 lead off Anderson’s triple.Dominic Powell’s triple got Northwestern within four. Walden was relentless down low, scoring eight points in the first six minutes. Anderson’s second trey made it 18-9 Oxford before he followed it with another basket that had the Eagles leading 20-9.
Oxford sat back comfortably in a 2-3 forcing the opposition to shoot them out of it, but through the first eight minutes the Bobcats couldn't answer the bell.
The Eagles were up by as much as 15 and extended their lead to 17 with another basket from Walden. They were rolling, playing stout defensively and creating good looks on offense by playing unselfish basketball and winning on the offensive boards.
The Eagles forced another turnover and a basket from Anderson gave them a 38-15 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the first half.
Oxford was in complete control and led the Georgia Northwestern 43-19 at the half. Anderson and Walden terrorized the Bobcats in the first half with 31 points combined on 13-18 shooting.
To say the Bobcats struggled with their outside shot would be an understatement. Georgia Northwestern shot 1-13 from three and 28.6 percent overall in the first half while the Eagles shot 51.4 percent overall including 43 percent from three.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the majority of the Oxford starters were on the bench except for Marquavious Strozier and Anderson. Anderson’s first three-pointer of the second half provided Oxford with a 25-point cushion. Zach Breathwaite’s steal and dunk ignited the Oxford crowd with under 15 minutes to play up by 25.
“The clock is our friend,” Coach Roderick Stubbs told his team during a timeout with 13:14 to play.
The Bobcats chipped away at the lead and No. 45’s steal and three from the corner got the Bobcats within 16 with 10:55 remaining.
Turnovers started to become a problem for Oxford but they kept Georgia Northwestern at bay. The Bobcats would get as close as 11 but could never cross the double-digit threshold.
Under the two-minute mark the game got chippy and two players were ejected. Garret McAllister for fighting and Kelvin Pittman for coming off the bench.