EL PASO, Texas-A game that had 5 ties and 13 lead changes and seemed destined for a tight finish slipped away from Oral Roberts quickly as they fell to UTEP 69-49, Friday night at the Don Haskins Center in the season-opener for both teams.
ORU shot 50 percent (11-22) in the first half and just 26-percent (7-26) in the second, and turned the ball over 10 times in each half of the loss. The 20 turnovers are the most for ORU since turning it over 22 times in the season opener against West Virginia a year ago.
Warren Niles led all scorers with 19 points, while Shawn Glover added 12 points as the only two in double figures for ORU. The Golden Eagles did not get a single point off the bench, despite playing 10 players. Damen Bell-Holter did what he had done in the exhibition games and grabbed 12 rebounds, the only player for either team with more than six boards.
UTEP was led by John Bohannon, who hit 8-of-14 shots and had 17 points. Chris Washburn hit 6-of-7, including a number of easy baskets in the second half to finish with 14 points. Julian Washburn and Jalen Ragland had 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"In the locker room we talked a lot about our lack of toughness and guys being a little bit selfish, and I think when they made their run those things were glaring," said Coach Scott Sutton. "I think we lost our composure big time and we weren't tough with the basketball. When we did get shots they were forced shots off one pass and we don't play like that. We will be a better team because of this experience."
It was all Niles to start the game as he hit the first points of the 2012-13 season with a three-pointer. He would go on to score 15 of the team's first 19 points of the game, including another three, one of four that he hit in the first half. The fourth trey momentarily silenced the crowd and tied the game back at 18 after UTEP took a three-point lead, their largest at the time.
A Glover three-pointer-the fifth Golden Eagle trey of the game-at the 4:54 mark gave ORU a 22-20 lead, but would be the last triple of the game for ORU, going 0 for their next six to finish the game.
In all, the first half had four ties and seven lead changes, but thanks in part to 10 ORU turnovers, UTEP held a narrow 31-28 lead at the break, despite a the hot shooting effort by the Golden Eagles.
ORU scored the first four points out of the locker room and took a quick 32-31 lead, and held the lead against at 39-38, but that lead would dissipate quickly as UTEP went on a 30-8 run stretching more than 10 minutes of action.
The Miners cruised to the 20-point victory and sent ORU home with a loss in the season-opener for the fifth year in a row.
ORU will host St. Gregory's on Wednesday, November 14 at 7 p.m. in its home opener inside the Mabee Center.