ORU overcomes early deficit to beat Texas State, 86-77

From ORU Sports Information

SAN MARCOS, Texas-Led by a trio of double-digit scorers, including a pair of 20-point performances, Oral Roberts (5-4) pushed past Texas State (3-5) 86-77 on Wednesday night at Strahan Coliseum.

Damen Bell-Holter had a season high 21 points, and Warren Niles matched that total, scoring 21 for the third game in a row, while Shawn Glover added 15 points to pace ORU, who trailed by as many as 12 early in the game. With the effort, Niles moved into ninth on the all-time scoring list at ORU, passing the 1,500 point mark, and Haywoode Workman in the process.

ORU shot 47 percent (32-67) from the field, but held a 42-28 edge on the glass and had 19 second-chance points as the Golden Eagles posted their second-highest point total of the season, next to a 90 point effort against St. Gregory’s.

Texas State got 19 points from Matt Staff, 17 from Joel Wright and 12 from Corey Stern, pacing a Bobcat offense that shot 50 percent (28-56) from the field for the game.

ORU had 13 turnovers, tying the second fewest this season, and got 21 points off the bench as all nine players who saw action scored at least two points. It was the fourth time this season in which the ORU bench has outscored the opponent, and ORU is 3-1 in those games.

“It’s a great win, especially considering the way we started the game,” said Coach Scott Sutton. “We came out flat and missed shots. I thought we got great looks early and couldn’t make anything and then we allowed them to get in transition. We did a great job on the offensive glass and early on I thought that kept us in it. In the second half we established an inside presence with Damen and Shawn. I’m proud of our guys. Good teams find a way to win.”

Things were not going to the way of the Golden Eagles early as Texas State hit its first six shots and took an early 13-4 lead less than four minutes into the game. Conversely, ORU hit just two of the first nine attempts from the floor.

The offense would not stop there for the Bobcats, as they went on to start the game 8-for-8 before finally missing on a 3-point attempt. It would be a 12-point advantage for the Bobcats with 11:51 to go in the first half as a 3-point play by Corey Stern made it 23-11.

From that point, it was all Golden Eagles as they outscored Texas State 36-19 over the remainder of the half to take a 47-42 lead into the locker room. All 17 of Niles’ first half points came during that span as he hit 3-of-4 3-point attempts and 7-of-10 attempts overall after starting 0-4 from the field and 0-2 from  beyond the arc.

Niles was not the only one who lit up to end the half as ORU overcame an early 5-17 mark to hit 13 of the next 18 attempts as a team.

Up five at the break, the two teams traded baskets early with the ORU lead never falling below two but never getting higher than five until a pair of Niles free throws after a technical foul made it 57-50. A fast break layup by Bell-Holter pushed it up to nine and forced Texas State to call the timeout just over four minutes into the half.

The timeout couldn’t stop the Golden Eagles as they continued to get easy baskets and made it a 63-50 lead with a 10-0 run. It would be the largest lead of the game for either team.

Texas State would claw back into it and cut it to a six point game at 69-63 and it would hover around that mark for the remainder of the game. With less than two to play, ORU briefly pushed it out to a nine point lead at 82-73 and free throws down the stretch held it there as ORU left Strahan Coliseum with the 86-77 win.

The Golden Eagles will return to the hardwood after an extended break to take final exams. The next contest for ORU is December 18 as the Golden Eagles travel to Arizona to face the top-10 Wildcats.


Blake Freeland is the Assistant Athletic Director for Media Relations at Oral Roberts University.

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