Oral Roberts got a combined 55 points from Warren Niles (29) and Damen Bell-Holter (26) as the duo led the Golden Eagles past Nicholls State Saturday afternoon at Stopher Gym. With the 76-63 victory, the Golden Eagles opened Southland Conference play 2-0 on the road. ORU moved to 7-7 (2-0, Southland) with the victory, while Nicholls State fell to 2-9 (1-1, Southland).
Bell-Holter tied a career high with four blocks as he continued to fill up the stat sheet with seven rebounds, and an assist to go along with his fourth-straight double-digit scoring performance. With the four blocks, Bell-Holter moved up into sole possession of sixth place on the career list at ORU with 108 blocks, passing Antonio Martin (106).
It was the first time since Dec. 5 of this season against Texas State in which ORU has had two players score at least 20 points, when Bell-Holter and Niles each had 21.
ORU also controlled the boards as they out-rebounded the Colonels 42-23 on the night, tying the Belmont game for the most dominant rebounding edge of the season and limiting Nicholls State to just nine second-chance points.
Dantrell Thomas led the Colonels with 19 points, while Jeremy Smith, Shane Rillieux and Amin Torres each had 11 points.
If there was a downside to a game in which ORU dominated rebounding, had a season-high seven blocks, and shot 53.8 percent from the field it was 20 turnovers committed by the Golden Eagles, which led to 16 Colonel points.
"We've talked a lot over the years about the importance of going on the road in conference and winning games," said Coach Scott Sutton. "To get a sweep in these first two road games was very important. It's good to get out of here with a win. I thought we did some really good things. I thought Warren and Damen were great again and we rebounded extremely well but our bench did not play very well."
An early 12-0 run put ORU up big early, led by four-straight buckets by Bell-Holter, who had eight points, a pair of rebounds and a block in the first five minutes of the game. ORU would go on to lead by as many as 13 early on after three-straight baskets by Niles for ORU, and another by Bell-Holter made it 21-8.
Nicholls State came back and cut it to a seven point game with six-straight of its own, making it 21-14 midway through the first half. Five consecutive points by ORU pushed it back to a double-digit lead and it would only get below 10 once the remainder of the half as ORU opened up as much as a 17-point lead in the first half.
The two teams played evenly for the majority of the second half, with the lead hovering between 19 and 14 until ORU finally broke the 20-point mark with less than three minutes to play, taking a 75-54 lead. With the victory already in hand with a minute to play and ORU up 76-56, Nicholls scored seven points in the final minute to cut the final margin to 13.
The Golden Eagles will return home for the first time since Dec. 22 as they host Northwestern State on Thursday and Stephen F. Austin on Saturday. Both games will tip off from the Mabee Center at 7:30 p.m.