Tournament MVP Ehambe Lifts ORU to Third Straight Summit League Title
The Golden Eagles (24-8) won their ninth straight tournament game and became the first Summit League team to win three consecutive titles since Valparaiso won six straight from 1995-2000. ORU gains the Summit League’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, which begins March 20.
One night after being held scoreless in a semifinal win over IPFW, Ehambe connected on 7-of-13 shots from three-point range and finished 9-of-15 from the field against the Jaguars (26-7), gaining Tournament MVP honors.
With ORU trailing 52-49 with 7:24 to play, Ehambe drained a three from the right corner, knotting the score at 52. He sank another trey at 5:39 for a 55-52 ORU advantage.
A pair of free throws by League player of the year George Hill trimmed the lead to 55-54, and Hill knocked down a three-pointer less than a minute later to give the Jags their final lead, 57-55 with 4:21 to play.
Kelvin Sango (Tulsa, Okla.) tied the game at 57 with a driving layup, and Shawn King (Bequia, St. Vincent) followed with a layup of his own to make it 59-57 with 2:54 left.
Ehambe found Robert Jarvis (Humble, Texas) for a jumper in the lane as ORU grabbed a 61-57 lead with 2:20 to play. Hill hit a driving layup to trim the lead to 61-59 with 2:02 left, but Jarvis converted a wide open three from the right corner to put the Golden Eagles up 64-59 with 1:37 to go, signaling the end for the Jaguars.
Hill missed a three on the other end, and King drained a pair of free throws on ORU’s next possession for a 66-59 lead with 1:20 to play.
IUPUI missed four of its next five shots while ORU made 5-of-9 free throws in the final 1:03 to seal the championship victory and ORU’s fifth NCAA Tournament berth overall.
ORU led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but IUPUI trimmed the lead to 28-27 with 2:33 left in the half before Ehambe hit a three with 1:32 to go to give ORU a 31-27 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles won for the 21st time when leading at halftime.
Jarvis joined Ehambe on the All-Tournament team, scoring 16 points on 6-of-17 shooting. He was just 2-for-9 from three-point range, but was perfect on two attempts from the line and added three rebounds and two steals.
King chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds for ORU.
Hill led the Jags with 24 points, but was limited to 8-of-21 shooting. Austin Montgomery added 16 points and Gary Patterson chipped in with 14.
ORU limited the Jaguars to 41.5 percent shooting, including 36.7 percent in the decisive second half. The Golden Eagles shot 47.2 percent from the field, but managed only 12-of-21 from the line.
The Golden Eagles dominated the glass for the third straight game, out-rebounding IUPUI, 37-29.