SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Second-seeded Oral Roberts University fell behind by 22 points at the half and paid the price on Saturday afternoon in an 83-71 loss to seventh-seeded Western Illinois University in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Summit League Championship.
With the loss, ORU falls to 20-10 and will now await a potential postseason bid.
Western Illinois (12-18) advances to Monday’s semifinal round, where they will face either UMKC or Oakland.
Kevi Luper led the Golden Eagles with 27 points. Seniors Jordan Pyle and Georgia Jones added 13 and 11 points, respectively.
Jones added a team-high eight assists, while Pyle and Savanna Buck each racked up seven rebounds.
Valencia Kelly scored 24 points to lead the Leathernecks, while Saule Kontautaite knocked down six three-pointers and scored 22.
WIU shot 45.3% from the floor, while ORU shot at just a 36.5% clip.
ORU fell into an early hole, missing seven of their first eight shots. Western Illinois took advantage, taking a 13-2 lead on a Sadie Webb three-pointer at the 15:18 mark.
The Leathernecks showed no signs of slowing down in the opening half. A Webb three-point play with 7:32 on the clock stretched the lead to 25-12.
The first half just never got better. Kontautaite nailed a corner three at the first half buzzer to push the lead to its highest point, 38-16, at the break.
ORU shot just 20.6% from the floor in the first half, missing 27 of 34 field goal attempts. WIU was a blazing 51.9% in the half, with six three-pointers.
The Golden Eagles tried to kick start a rally out of the halftime locker room, but Kontautaite put it on hold. The sharpshooter hit three-pointers on three straight possessions to make the score 47-27 at the 17:26 mark.
Though ORU continued to push, Western Illinois maintained their double-digit lead midway through the second half. And the Golden Eagles were dealt a blow at the 7:16 mark, when Jaci Bigham fouled out of the game. The resulting free throws put the Leathernecks ahead, 62-45.
Momentum finally swung ORU’s way with an 8-0 run. Luper drained a transition three-ball at the 5:47 mark to finally whittle the gap to single digits, at 62-53. Later the three-time Summit League Player of the Year hit two free throws to close the deficit to seven points.
But ORU never got closer, and WIU virtually ended the Eagle hopes at the 2:33 mark. A Jackie Rieger three-point play kicked the lead back up to 15, at 72-57.
The lead was always double-digits from that point on.
Despite the loss, ORU’s 20-win season is their third in a row.
The Golden Eagles will look forward to potential berths in either the Women’s National Invitational Tournament or the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
WIU will try to keep their NCAA Tournament hopes alive on Monday afternoon at 2:30 pm.