Senior pride was on display Thursday night as Oral Roberts University's veterans carried the Golden Eagles past Stephen F. Austin, 64-55. With the win, ORU snaps a two-game losing streak and improves to 4-12 (3-3 Southland Conference).
"We know the giants we have faced, we know who comes to the practice gym each and every day, and the amount of work and effort and execution that goes into our days," Head Coach Misti Cussen said after the win. "We are better than we were three weeks ago, we are better than we were three months ago. We just have to play our best basketball at the end of the season."
Christian Key led ORU with 24 points, hitting the 20-point mark for the third straight game. On the defensive end, fellow senior Sarah Shelton grabbed eight rebounds and blocked five shots, including three monumental swats down the stretch.
Thursday night was a milestone for the Tulsa native, who hit four three-pointers and passed 2006 alumnus Leah Cannon for 10th place on ORU's career list. The senior has now hit 129 career three-pointers.
The Balla sisters played key supporting roles in the win. Bernadett scored a season-high 12 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Dorottya scored 10 points and drew a crucial charge in the game's waning moments.
Preseason SLC Player of the Year Porsha Roberts led SFA (10-8, 4-2 SLC) with 21 points and 10 rebounds. She was the lone Ladyjack in double-figures.
ORU shot 46.4% for the game and turned the ball over just 13 times, while SFA shot just 30.4% and left with 18 turnovers.
ORU fell into an early hole, as a Taylor Ross layup gave the visitors a 12-5 lead less than five minutes in the game. But Cussen's team didn't struggle for long.
The Golden Eagles grabbed the lead, 24-23, at the 6:44 mark on a Bernadett Balla layup, and Key canned a three-pointer just before halftime to stretch the advantage to 35-28. ORU went into the break up, 37-31.
The 1st half was perhaps the cleanest half of basketball ORU has played this season. The Golden Eagles shot 53.3% in the period and committed just four turnovers. Key was 6-for-7 from the field in the first 20 minutes and led all players with 15 points.
The lead hit double-digits for the first time with 14:53 left in the game, as Key hit a pull-up jumper to make the score 45-35. Roberts immediately scored six straight for the Ladyjacks to cut the lead to just four, but Key quickly boosted the lead back to 50-41 with her fourth three-pointer of the game at the 11:02 mark.
SFA had one more run in them, as a Kali Jerrell fast break basket sliced ORU's lead to 58-55 with 3:05 on the clock. But the Ladyjacks would get no closer. ORU scored the final six points of the game, with Shelton's defensive stand keeping the visitors off the board. The Golden Eagles won the game by nine.
The play of Kaylan Mayberry was vital to ORU's win. The freshman set career highs on Thursday with seven assists and four steals.
ORU caps the home stand on Saturday afternoon, when they host Northwestern State. Tipoff is slated for a special 12:30 pm CT start on Hall of Fame Day at the Mabee Center.