UALR's Taylor Gault hit a contested jumper with :06 left to lift the Trojans over Oral Roberts University, 53-51, on Saturday at the Mabee Center. ORU (1-5) could not finish off the victory after leading by 11 points midway through the second half. The Trojans finished the game on a 25-12 run.
"We're right where we wanted to be," said head coach Misti Cussen. "I'm really proud of the effort of our girls today, I think we just continue to progress and take another step every time out."
Dorottya Balla led the Golden Eagles with a career-high 14 points, while Christian Key scored 13 and added six rebounds. ORU recovered from a difficult first half to shoot 40.0% (18-for-45) for the game.
"I got a lot of trust from Coach (Cussen) and the assistant coaches as well and I want to use that trust now," said Balla after her big performance. "Their faith gives me confidence in what I need to use on the court."
UALR (3-2) was led by Taylor Ford, who scored 14 points, while Shanity James checked in with 12 points. Gault added 11 off the bench for the Trojans, who shot 35.1% (20-for-57) for the game but 56.7% (17-for-30) in the second half.
Both teams scuffled in a first half that featured eight combined field goals and 36 turnovers. ORU led throughout and took control of the half by scoring the final five points of the period. A Balla three-pointer and a key jumper in the final seconds made it 18-9 at the break.
Key led the Golden Eagles with six points at the intermission, while Balla had five. ORU shot just 25.0% in the period but was able to build the nine-point lead by holding the Trojans to 11.5% shooting.
The lead hit double-digits as ORU picked it up offensively early in the second half. Alexus Wilson scored two early buckets, with the second one giving the home side at 24-13 advantage at the 16:38 mark.
Things really heated up in the second half, as both teams settled into an offensive rhythm. UALR mounted several rallies, but the Golden Eagles kept slamming the door. A basket by Carolina Lopez on a beautiful Key assist restored the double-digit lead, at 41-30, with 8:30 on the clock.
But the Trojans finally took control with 4:54 left in the game. Ford capped a 14-2 run with a fast break layup to give UALR their first lead of the afternoon, at 44-43.
ORU tied the game two possessions later on a Balla three-pointer, and they drew even again at 51-all on an Atoe' Jackson free throw with :27 seconds left. But the junior missed the back end of the one-and-one and UALR rebounded. Gault scored the game-winner on the ensuing possession, and ORU turned the ball over at the buzzer to end the game.
Sarah Shelton had another fine evening, and she matched a career-high with six blocked shots. The senior added a team-high seven rebounds.
Turnovers were a defining characteristic for both teams. UALR finished with 25 and the Golden Eagles added 28.
ORU will spend the entire month of December on the road, as they play four power conference opponents. The first matchup of the month is on Wednesday night, when the Golden Eagles face Missouri. Tip time in Columbia, Mo., is scheduled for 7 pm CT.