FT. WAYNE, Ind.-Michael Craion blocked a 3-point attempt with time expiring to clinch the first regular season Summit League Championship for Oral Roberts since the 2007-08 season as the Golden Eagles held off IPFW 75-71.
ORU (24-5, 16-1) has now tied the school record for conference wins in a season, having gone 16-2 in 2007-08. Warren Niles led the way for ORU with 24 points, nine of which came from the free throw line including two trips to the line in the last 20 seconds of the game. In addition to the biggest block of the game, Craion had 18 points, his highest output since scoring 18 against South Dakota on January 26. Dominique Morrison added 15 for ORU, while Steven Roundtree had eight points and a team high seven rebounds, helping ORU to a 33-26 rebounding advantage.
Frank Gaines hit 10 of his 15 shots en route to 28 points to lead all scorers, while Trey McCorkle had 12 points for IPFW. The Golden Eagles shot 48 percent (25-52) for the game, while the Mastodons hit 47 percent (24-51) of their shots.
ORU turned the ball over 17 times, while IPFW turned it over 16, but it was ORU who had the advantage, turning them into 20 points, despite a series of four empty trips in the second half.
"First of all a lot of credit goes to IPFW," said Coach Scott Sutton, who has won the regular season for the fifth time as the head coach of ORU. "They played their hearts out and played like a team who is fighting for their season. I expected a tough game and I'm proud of my guys. We played a terrible first half and fell behind by 10 points there in the second half but they kept fighting and fought back like a championship team. They made plays down the stretch like a championship team. I'm very happy and proud that they could clinch and outright championship."
After getting off to just a 1-7 start from the field, the Golden Eagles found themselves down 10-2 to start the game. A basket by Craion underneath started an 8-0 run to tie the game that was finished by six-straight points and a great block by Niles.
The Mastodons did not let ORU take the lead though, and pushed the lead back out to five on a number of occasions in the first half. Finally, at the 6-minute mark in the first half, a long 3-pointer by Morrison gave ORU a 27-25 lead.
The Golden Eagles couldn't get more than a three-point advantage in the period and went into the locker room down 36-33.
After scoring the final two points of the first half, IPFW scored eight of the first 10 points in the second half to make it a nine-point game, 44-35. Morrison scored five-straight to make it four but a Gaines 3-pointer and pair of free throws pushed the lead back out to nine.
The Golden Eagles finally made their run, turning it into an 18-6 spurt to take a 66-62 lead. With a minute to go, a pair of Jonny Marlin free throws cut it to a two-point game at 68-66.
A Craion layup with 31 seconds to go and three free throws down the stretch by Niles put ORU up 73-71 with 14 seconds to go. A last-second effort by Antwaun Boyd was blocked by Craion and a foul with 0.2 seconds left put Roundtree at the line for two free throws, giving the Golden Eagles the 75-71 victory.
The Golden Eagles will close out their home portion of the schedule on Saturday as they host Akron in a Sears BracketBuster contest. The first 2,500 fans in the door will receive a free Dominique Morrison Bobble Head and anyone who purchases a ticket in the lower bowl of the arena will get a white t-shirt to aid in the white-out efforts. ORU will also honor the seniors following the game.