With its highest shooting percentage of the season, the Oral Roberts men's basketball team ran away from Nicholls State, winning 90-78 on Saturday at the Mabee Center. ORU (13-8, 8-1 Southland) shot 62 percent (33-53) from the field and scored 90 points for the third time this season, finally getting separation from the Colonels (6-13, 5-4 Southland) late in the game. The victory runs ORU's winning streak to five games, and keeps the Golden Eagles in a tie for first in the Southland Conference.
ORU got a career-high 25 points from Shawn Glover, who now has 73 combined points in the last three games, having set or tied his career high in each contest. Glover also had nine rebounds for the third time in five games, leading ORU in that category. Warren Niles added 24 points, while Damen Bell-Holter had 15 points in 18 minutes, seven of which came from the free throw line, and Korey Billbury added 10 points.
Glover's performance was bested by Fred Hunter's 33 point performance for Nicholls State, converting 11 of his 15 shot attempts. Hunter was the only Colonel to get to the free throw line, making 11 of the 14 attempts. Amin Torres scored 17 and Dantrell Thomas had 12 points to pace Nicholls, as the Colonels scored more than 70 points for the first time in the last four games.
Despite allowing ORU to shoot such a high percentage, Nicholls State stayed in the game by shooting better than 54 percent (31-57). The Colonels also turned ORU over 10 times in the first half alone, which was more than either of the last two games. The Golden Eagles took better care the second half, turning it over just three times in the second 20 minutes.
"I love my kids, I think they are great kids and we will continue to win games, but to win tough games and to win games when it matters you have to fall back on your defense and this team has not done that," said Coach Scott Sutton. "When you shoot 70 percent in the first half and you are tied, at home, it is embarrassing."
Glover took control offensively early and had nearly half of the team's 17 points in the first 10 minutes of the game, but it was the others on the team that gave ORU a 17-12 lead after putting together a 7-0 run that included baskets by Bell-Holter and Glover as well as a 3-pointer by Mikey Manghum.
More than 12 minutes into the game it was the Glover vs. Hunter contest as each had 10 points for their respective teams, although ORU had a 23-20 edge on the scoreboard.
Both teams went cold from the field for nearly two minutes before a pair of Niles free throws broke the ice to give ORU the 25-20 lead. Nicholls responded with seven points in 39 seconds to take a 27-25 lead, their first since it was 10-8 and tying their largest lead of the game.
ORU held a slight lead with less than a minute to play but a Jeremy Smith jumper tied the game 37-37 at the halftime buzzer.
With both teams continuing to shoot the ball extremely well, it's no surprise that neither team was able to pull away for the majority of the second half. ORU finally got the lead to as many as seven after a put-back dunk by Roundtree and three points from Glover made it 58-51.
As Glover continued to score at will, scoring six-straight ORU points and nine of the team's 11 points, his back-to-back layups gave ORU a 65-57 lead, the largest ORU lead to that point with 9:17 to play.
A Billbury 3-pointer, just his third of the season, with just over five minutes to play gave ORU its largest extended the lead to nine and Bell-Holter free throws made it a 77-66 game.
ORU continued to try to put the Colonels away and finally seemed to finally get enough of a cushion with a layup by Manghum that made it 84-70 with 3:05 to play. The teams traded points for the remainder of the game with the ORU lead never dipping below 10.
The Golden Eagles conclude their four-game home stand on Saturday as they host Southeastern Louisiana for ORU's annual homecoming contest. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. from the Mabee Center.