LITTLE ROCK, Ark.-Oral Roberts scored five points in 3.6 seconds, including a long buzzer-beater from Damen Bell-Holter to come from behind and beat Arkansas-Little Rock, 58-55 inside the Jack Stephens Center on Monday night. ORU improves to 7-3 on the season while UALR falls to 3-8.
Going for the steal on an inbounds play with 3.6 seconds to play, Warren Niles drew a foul, hitting both free throws to tie the game at 55-55. With a desperation heave to set up a shot to win the game for UALR, things turned on a dime as Bell-Holter intercepted the pass, took a dribble, spun and launched a line drive from three-quarters court, banking it in to give ORU the victory.
"I think Dominique (Morrison) said it best when he said the basketball gods owed us one after what happened against Texas-San Antonio," said Coach Scott Sutton. "We probably didn't deserve to win that game but sometimes you find a way to win anyway. We have a great saying on our court 'Expect a Miracle' and that is certainly what it was."
Roderick Pearson led the team with 20 points, tying a career high. It was the second time in two years that he has led the team in scoring, tying with Warren Niles and Bell-Holter with 18 points on February 5, 2011 against North Dakota State. Bell-Holter had 12 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in his first start of the season. Dominique Morrison had 11 points, while Michael Craion had seven points but 10 rebounds, including four offensive boards.
The Golden Eagles shot just 40 percent for the game and committed 16 turnovers, but only five in the second half as they mounted their comeback. ORU did have a season-high nine blocks, the most since swatting 10 at UMKC on February 27, 2010.
D'Andre Williams led UALR with 22 points while Chuck Guy added 13. The Trojans shot 41 percent as a team and had nine steals in the game.
With a basket at the 12:27 mark in the first half, ORU led 14-13 before without a field goal for the next 8:35. During that time, UALR went on a 13-2 run to push the lead out to 26-16. A pair of free throws from Bell-Holter was all the offense that ORU could find during the stretch, going from shooting better than 50 percent to nearly 40 percent for the half. Finally a three by Morrison with 3:52 to go in the half broke the drought to make it 26-19.
A late shot by Will Neighbour with five seconds to go in the half made it 32-24 in favor of UALR at the break. After giving up the first four points of the second half, ORU went to work cutting into the Trojan lead, and just over five minutes in, had done all but eliminated it, trailing by two (38-36). It was the closest the game had been since the 11:59 mark in the first half (15-14).
Pearson scored 10 of the team's first 20 points in the second half as they got back to within one at 45-44 with 10:03 to go in the game. The Trojans held onto their lead until the 3:51 mark when Craion's free throw tied the game at 50-50.
With plenty of opportunities to take the lead, including an open look from three from Pearson and a free throw by Morrison, it wasn't until Bell-Holter's free throw with 1:26 that the Golden Eagles were able to break the tie and take the lead back.
A free throw shooting contest down the stretch, Guy's pair of free throws gave UALR the lead back momentarily until Pearson answered with two of his own to give it right back to ORU with 56 seconds to go. An off-balance shot by Williams was the 10th lead change of the game.
A Tramar Sutherland free throw made it a two point game and Morrison's jumper rimmed out, as did Niles' tip-in-attempt and it looked like missed opportunities would cost ORU again.
They would not as Niles and Bell-Holter scored five-straight in the final 3.6 seconds to win the game.
The Golden Eagles will remain on the road for as they travel to Gonzaga (Dec. 15) and Xavier (Dec. 18) to finish off a four-game road swing.