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ORU Hosts Harding in Exhibition Opener

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 10/26/2012
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TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts University opens the 2012-13 women’s basketball season on Monday, October 29 with an exhibition against NCAA Division II member Harding University. Tip-off at the Mabee Center is scheduled for 7 pm CT.

Live video coverage of the game is available on ORUGoldenEagles.com, while radio coverage is available on KYAL-AM 1550 in Tulsa and around the world at ORUGoldenEagles.com. The broadcast begins at 6:45 pm CT.

Oral Roberts posted a 20-11 record in 2011-12, with a 14-4 Summit League record. The Golden Eagles finished 2nd in the Summit League standings and fell in the quarterfinals of the Summit League Tournament, 83-71, to Western Illinois. ORU earned their third straight berth to the Women’s NIT, where they fell in the first round to Wichita State, 79-57.

Then-junior Kevi Luper captured her third consecutive Summit League Player of the Year award and was named to the Naismith Trophy’s initial watch list. She was also a College Sports Madness 2nd Team Mid-Major All-American, a Capital One Academic All-district selection and a Division I-AAA Athletic Directors Association Scholar-Athlete.

Luper finished 2nd in NCAA Division I basketball in scoring, 5th in steals and 21st in free throw percentage.

Then-freshman Bernadett Balla also had an award-worthy 2011-12 season, as she was named to the Summit League All-Newcomer Team.

Oral Roberts was picked 3rd in the Southland Conference Preseason Sports Information Directors’ Poll and 4th in the conference’s Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The Golden Eagles earned two first-place votes from the league’s SID personnel but none from the coaches.

McNeese State earned 13 combined first-place votes and is the SLC preseason favorite according to both the coaches and media relations personnel. In addition to McNeese, the Golden Eagles were picked behind Central Arkansas in both polls and Stephen F. Austin in the Coaches’ Poll.

Luper was a Preseason All-SLC 2nd Team selection according to the league's head coaches.

Harding is a member of the Great American Conference, an NCAA Division II league in its second season of competition. The Lady Bisons went 18-11 last season, with a 9-7 GAC record.

HU finished fourth in the GSC standings and made a Cinderella run to the GAC Tournament championship game, where they fell to Southwestern Oklahoma State, 69-58.

Harding returns junior forward Kristen Celsor, who was a 1st team All-GAC selection last year after averaging 13.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Guard Montana Lewis, who averaged 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season, was named the 2011-12 GAC Freshman of the Year.

Head Coach Tim Kirby is in his 7th season at Harding, with a record of 122-78.

Harding’s only regular season win over an NCAA Division I opponent came on 12/6/07, a 74-64 victory over Houston Baptist.

ORU has never faced Harding in an official contest. The Golden Eagles have won 28 consecutive games against non-NCAA Division I competition, although Monday’s exhibition contest will not count toward that streak. ORU’s winning streak against non-DI foes dates back to a 66-63 loss to East Texas Baptist on Feb. 7, 1994.

The Golden Eagles were 2-0 in exhibition action last season, with a 109-65 victory over Evangel on 10/27/11 and a 90-87 victory over Central Oklahoma on 11/7/11. Luper scored 42 points in the UCO victory.

Monday's exhibition is the head coaching debut of Misti Cussen, and the collegiate debuts of Felecia Achilefu, Taylor Cooper and Krisztina Velkey. Velkey played for the Hungarian national team over the summer, leading the squad to a third-place finish at the FIBA U20 European Championship B Division tournament.

ORU continues exhibition play on Saturday, November 3 when they face Oklahoma Baptist. Tip-off at the Mabee Center is scheduled for 7 pm CT. The Golden Eagles open regular season play on November 9 against city rival Tulsa, with tip time slated for 7 pm CT.
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