Niles' Red-Hot Shooting Leads ORU Past Texas A&M-CC
For the second game in a row, Oral Roberts (16-10, 11-3, SLC) got a hot start from senior Warren Niles and the Golden Eagles held on beat Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (4-19, 3-10, SLC) 56-51 on Saturday night at the Mabee Center.
Despite a 14-point lead being trimmed to one, ORU found an answer each time and never trailed in the game for the second game in a row, winning for the sixth time in a row at home.
Niles led all scorers with 25 points, while Damen Bell-Holter and D.J. Jackson each added 10. Bell-Holter added 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
Johnathan Jordan posted a 20-point effort for the Islanders while Hameed Ali added 11 points as the only two Islanders in double figures. Jordan also had seven of the team's nine assists, while Nate Maxey had six blocks in 19 minutes of action, falling one short of the Mabee Center record for an opponent.
ORU shot just 38 percent, including an 0-11 stretch from the field in the middle of the second half. The Golden Eagles were aided by great defense, holding Corpus Christi to 51 points, the lowest point total for an opponent since allowing just 41 to St. Gregory's.
Niles had the hot hand early and took full advantage of it, nailing five of his first six 3-point attempts. He had all 14 points as ORU jumped out to a 14-6 lead. After Niles scored 17 of the team's first 19 points, others joined in the action and ORU opened up a 10-point lead at 21-11 after a pair of Mikey Manghum free throws.
A four-point play by Jackson gave ORU a 12-point lead with less than four to play in the first half. Ali hit back-to-back 3-pointers and had the last eight Islander points in the half as the Islanders cut the lead to six points at 31-25, the closest they had been since ORU led 14-8 with 11:46 left in the first half.
It was another solid start coming out of the halftime break as ORU scored the first eight points of the half to open up a 39-25 lead. It wasn't until the 14:41 mark in the second half that the Islanders were able to get on the scoreboard.
After the hot start, ORU went scoreless for the next 4:36 before a pair of Bell-Holter free throws pushed the lead back out to 12 after Corpus Christi had cut it to 10 at 39-29.
A 3-point play by Knowles made it a seven point game at 41-34 with 9:14 to play before the scoring stopped for both teams for more than two minutes. Jordan added a 3-point play to cut the lead down to four.
Niles finally stopped an 8-0 run with a pair of free throws as ORU continued to struggle to hit field goals, experiencing a drought of 11:14 in between baskets.
As the shots stopped falling for the Golden Eagles, the Islanders used a 13-2 run to cut the lead all the way down to one with just over four minutes to play.
Korey Billbury knocked down a 12-footer and Steven Roundtree slashed to the basket to put ORU up five in the final minutes. Jackson hit a couple of big free throws with less than 10 seconds to play to help ORU escape with the victory.
In a non-traditional week, ORU will host its travel partner, Central Arkansas on Tuesday night at the Mabee Center before hosting Weber State on Saturday in a non-conference matchup determined by BracketBuster participation. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m. in the Mabee Center.