A first half block party gave Oral Roberts a chance against the mighty Lady Vols on their home court.  But eventually Tennessee’s strength proved to be too much on Saturday.

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ORU fell to Tennessee, 83-62, in Knoxville in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Kevi Luper, in her final game, paced the Golden Eagles with 20 points.  Fellow senior Savanna Buck put in 15.

The third senior of this historic class for Oral Roberts, Jaci Bigham, had only three points, but had suffered throughout the week of preparation with a severe stomach virus.

ORU coach Misti Cussen said that she was proud of her team’s defensive effort.  However, she said that the lack of effectiveness of offense on this day was not enough to overcome the wave after wave of players that Tennessee was sending at them.

“We wanted to hang around long enough to be able to put pressure on them on their home court,” Cussen said.  “We just didn’t have the stamina to be able to stay around that long.”

Sarah Shelton had two points, but her presence was felt.  She grabbed 10 rebounds and had six blocks.  ORU had 10 blocks as a team, matching the high for a UT opponent in Thompson-Boling Arena.

The quick starts for the Lady Vols in each period proved to be crucial points in the game.

“The opening minutes of the first and second halves are always the most critical because you’re setting the tone for the rest of the half,” Luper said.

“We came out and missed a few buckets and they started making buckets.  We never really got that back.”

Meighan Simmons led the way for the Lady Volunteers with 18 points in the win.  Cierra Budrick had 13 points to go with eight rebounds.

ORU’s season ends at 18-13.

Tennessee moves on to play 10th seeded Creighton on Monday.

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