LAKE CHARLES, La. -Oral Roberts led the first 36 minutes of the game, but a late 12-0 run by McNeese State pushed the Cowboys past the Golden Eagles 56-54, Thursday evening at Burton Coliseum.
ORU (17-12, 12-4 Southland), had just three field goals in the final eight minutes of the game, getting out-scored by McNeese (12-14, 6-9 Southland) 20-7 during that stretch.
"This was a bad, bad loss," said Coach Scott Sutton. "Not because of who we got beat by, but the way we got beat. It is frustrating beyond words. Guys down the stretch have got to step up and get stops and have to step up and make plays. This year we have struggled to close out games, there is no question about it."
ORU was led by Shawn Glover's 18 points, while Warren Niles hit four 3-pointers en route to a 16-point outing. Damen Bell-Holter recorded his seventh double-double in a row inside of SLC play with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
For McNeese it was Dontae Cannon's 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half that led the Cowboys' comeback. Kevin Hardy added 13 and Desharick Guidry had nine as the trio accounted for 41 of the Cowboys' 56 points.
ORU shot 42 percent (22-52) for the game and was just 5-18 (27 percent) from 3-point range and 62 percent (5-8) from the free throw line, including two late misses with a minute to go. The Cowboys held a slight 32-31 lead in rebounding, as well as a 36-26 advantage in the paint and a 16-2 lead in fast-break points.
ORU led throughout the first half, but it was a slim one-point margin at 13-12 midway through the period. Niles knocked down an open 3-pointer from the corner and sparked a 9-0 run for the Golden Eagles to push it out to a 22-12 advantage, the largest of the first half.
Back-to-back threes by Hardy and Jeremie Mitchell got the Cowboys back in the game and the lead would not get above six the rest of the half with the Golden Eagles missing a shot at the halftime buzzer, but holding a 28-24 lead going into the locker room.
Rebounding must have been an emphasis for ORU in the locker room. After getting out-rebounded 20-17 in the first half, ORU grabbed nine of the first 10 rebounds of the second half and opened up a 40-30 lead less than seven minutes into the second half.
The lead would dance around 10 again in the second half until a D.J. Jackson 3-pointer broke through and gave ORU its largest lead of the game at 11, 47-36 with right at eight minutes to play.
With the chance to put the Cowboys away, ORU got bit by the turnover bug again and McNeese used the opportunity to rattle off a 12-0 run to take its first lead of the game, 48-47 with 4:04 to play.
After hitting just two threes in the first 36 minutes of the game, McNeese hit back-to-back shots from long range to take a 54-52 lead with just over a minute to play.
ORU tied the game at 54-54 until free throws by Cannon with 15 seconds left gave McNeese a 56-54 lead, one that they would not relinquish as ORU failed to get a shot off on the final possession.
The Golden Eagles will travel over to Beaumont, Texas to face Lamar on Saturday evening at 6 p.m. inside the Montagne Center.