Hot Start Paces ORU to 86-72 Victory Over SLU
HAMMOND, La.-Oral Roberts played nearly a perfect offensive game in the first half, opening a 21-point halftime lead and cruising to an 86-72 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on the road in the first ever Southland Conference contest for ORU.
ORU (6-7, 1-0) hit 74 percent (20-27) of its shots in the first half, including an incredible 9-10 mark from 3-point range as they jumped out to the early double-digit lead. The Golden Eagles finished the game at a 60 percent clip (31-51) and claimed an opponent record inside the University Center with an 81.8 percent mark (9-11) from 3-point range for the game, attempting just one shot from behind the arc in the second half, instead opting to go inside to Damen Bell-Holter, who finished with a career day and a University Center record of his own.
Bell-Holter, who tallied his 14th career double-double and his first 30-point game, led all players with 35 points and 14 rebounds. Bell-Holter wasn't the only one getting it done offensively as ORU scored the second-most points this season, next to a 90-point output against St. Gregory's. Joining his efforts were Warren Niles (18), Shawn Glover (13) and D.J. Jackson, who tied a career high with 11 points, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts.
Southeastern Louisiana (2-9, 0-1) got 18 points from Roosevelt Johnson, 15 points from Dre Evans and 14 points from Brandon Fortenberry as the Lions hit seven 3-pointers in the game.
"In conference play any road win is a great win, and I've always said that," said Coach Scott Sutton. "It's a little different when you are up by 25 points and we just kind of reverted back like we did against Tulsa and got down a little bit. Give them credit, they have two or three really nice players and they did a good job of making it interesting. We've got to get better but I'll take it. Offensively the first half is about as well as we've played in a long, long time."
Glover scored the first five points of the game for ORU, giving the Golden Eagles an early 5-2 lead, and it swelled to a 9-4 advantage after Brandon Conley got a block on one end and a layup on the other. The Lions came right back and tied the game at 9-9 on a 3-pointer by Evans, and would re-take the lead at 15-14 on another 3-ball by Nelson.
The one-point advantage would be the last of the game for Southeastern as ORU went on a 17-2 run to make it 31-17 in favor of the Golden Eagles. The lead would swell to as many as 21 in the first half as ORU got a layup by Bell-Holter on the last meaningful possession of the half to take a 54-33 lead into the break after a sizzling first half offensively.
The second half was not quite as friendly to ORU as the Lions cut a 25-point lead all the way down to 10 at 77-67 as the steadily out-scored the Golden Eagles in the second frame. That would be the end of the SLU rally though, as Bell-Holter continued to dominate late in the game and helped ORU take the 14-point, 86-72 victory on the road.
The Golden Eagles stay on the road as they face Nicholls State on Saturday night at 4 p.m. in Thibodaux, La.