Led by 24 points from Shawn Glover, and a career high 21 points from Korey Billbury, the Oral Roberts University men's basketball team took down Georgia Southern 67-65 in the Cancun Challenge on Tuesday.
ORU (3-3) built as much as a 13-point lead in the second half before Georgia Southern (2-4) began to climb back into the game. GSU hit a shot at the buzzer to give the final two-point margin, which was the closest they got to ORU after the Golden Eagles took a 25-23 lead with 1:45 to go in the first half.
Glover matched his season high with his second consecutive 24-point performance, scoring seven points in the final 1:02. Billbury seemed unstoppable most of the game, hitting 9-13 shots from inside the 3-point line (0-3 beyond), en route to a career-best 21 points. It is Billbury's first collegiate 20 point game. Jorden Kaufman shot 4-5 from the field and scored 10 points and grabbed a big rebound late to help ORU hold on to the lead.
Billbury led the team in rebounds with eight, while Bobby Word and Kaufman each matched their career bests with seven and six rebounds, respectively.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well, both finishing the game below 50 percent for the game, including a sub-30 percent mark from 3-point range. ORU hit just one 3-pointer on 14 attempts, but it was a big one a D.J. Jackson drained it to take a six point lead to nine late in the game.
GSU was led by Jelani Hewitt who had 19 points. Curtis Diamon matched Hewitt with a pair of 3-pointers and scored 12 points, while Tre Bussey added 11 points.
"We played hard and I thought we defended well but we couldn't' throw it in the ocean," said Coach Scott Sutton. "I thought we played really well in the second half and got a big lead six or seven minutes into the half and had a chance to extend that and then we stopped making shots again. We had the game pretty much wrapped up and I just shouldn't have gotten as close as it did. We have to learn how to close games out. You do that with defense and rebounding and then stepping to the free throw line and knocking them down."
A number of Golden Eagles caught fire in the first half as Kaufman scored six quick points to help ORU to a 14-10 lead nearly nine minutes into the first half.
After that point, GSU used an 8-0 to take back a four-point advantage.
Ending the half it was Glover who scored six of seven points for ORU, and then Billbury who scored the final six ORU points in the half to go from an 18-14 deficit to a 27-23 lead at the break. In all, it was a 13-5 scoring edge for the Golden Eagles down the stretch.
Billbury did not let off the gas in the second half, and stretching over the break the sophomore single-handedly out-scored Georgia Southern 10-1 to give ORU a 33-24 lead two minutes into the second half.
ORU led by as many as 13 in the second half before a 6-0 run by GSU cut things back down to single digits. Up just six points with less than eight minutes to play, Jackson drained the lone ORU 3-pointer of the game to push it back to 51-42.
Still a close game in the final minutes, a quick GSU 3-pointer and then free throws on the next possession cut it to a 60-56 ORU lead with 1:27 to play in the game.
Just a four point game with less than 30 seconds to go, Glover hit free throws and put ORU in the Mayan Division Championship game.
ORU will face Bowling Green who beat Presbyterian 67-45 in the first game of the day. That contest will tip off at 3 p.m.