OGDEN, Utah-After cruising to wins in the first two rounds of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, ORU ran into a red-hot Weber State team and fell 83-74 at the Dee Events Center Wednesday night.
Weber State (29-6), has now won 16 of their last 17 games dating back to January 31, with their only loss coming to Montana in the finals of the Big Sky Tournament. Even with a crowd of 6,638 backing the home team, ORU had it to a two point game with 6:46 to play before a 12-2 run put the game away.
ORU (20-15) was led by Shawn Glover and Damen Bell-Holter, each of whom had 19 points, while Warren Niles added 18. The trio combined for 56 of the team’s 74 points. ORU shot the ball well (47 percent) including a 50 percent clip in the second half, but hit just five of 15 3-point attempts and were 13-20 (65 percent) from the free throw line.
The loss ends the careers of Bell-Holter and Niles, both of whom have written their names all over the ORU record books. Niles finished with 1,984 career points (8th), and 292 made 3-pointers (4th), while Bell-Holter ranks fifth with 878 career rebounds and fourth with 139 career blocks.
Weber State, led by Davion Berry’s four 3-pointers and 27-points, shot 49 percent for the game, 8-20 (40 percent) from 3-point range and got to the free throw line 29 times, hitting 23 of them. Kyle Tresnak added 19 points and eight rebounds, while Scott Bamforth hit another three 3-pointers and had 18 points.
The Wildcats turned 13 ORU turnovers into 17 points and also crashed the basket with a 39-29 rebounding advantage.
“To beat a really good basketball team on the road you can’t have a 2-3 minute period like we did where we lost our composure and didn’t defend well,” said Coach Scott Sutton. “That’s a great team. They have veteran players, smart players, they hit big shots and they play well together. We knew we would have to play a great game and we put ourselves in a position to be in the game late, we just didn’t handle a little bit of adversity late and they were able to spurt out on us.”
Weber State got some distance early and opened up an 18-11 lead midway through the first half, hitting four of their first eight 3-point attempts of the game. Behind a push from Bell-Holter, ORU cut the lead to three on a couple of different occasions, including at 25-22 after three-straight points from the center.
It wasn’t until the final minutes of the first half when Glover and Billbury finished back-to-back jumpers that ORU was able to break through and cut it to a one-point game. Berry banked in a 3-pointer with 1:12 to go in the half and prevented the Golden Eagles from grabbing a lead, which would have been their first since the game was 4-3 1:34 into the contest.
A 6-2 Weber State run to start the second half made it 40-33 and again it was ORU trying to dig out of a hole against a very efficient offensive team.
With a couple of 3-pointers, one by Niles and one by D.J. Jackson, ORU cut it to a one-possession game again at 54-51 with 9:32 to play. Glover’s jumper cut it to one but again it was a Berry 3-ball that keep ORU from taking over the lead.
ORU had it down to two and possession of the basketball, but missed opportunities on the offensive end and more 3-pointers from the Wildcats quickly made it 73-61 with less than four minutes to play after a 9-0 run.
Jackson and Niles combined on another couple of 3-pointers and made it a seven point game, 77-70 with less than two minutes to go, but Weber hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Golden Eagles.
ORU’s season comes to an end after posting its second consecutive 20-win season and the seventh in the last nine seasons. Weber State moves on to the final four of the CIT and will face Northern Iowa.