Second Half Rally Comes Up Short as ORU Falls to Oakland in Summit League Championship Game
The loss snapped ORU’s (19-15) winning streak at 10 games. Oakland (25-9) advances to its second straight NCAA Tournament.
Dominique Morrison (Kansas City, Mo.) led ORU with 22 points and 11 rebounds, but his play wasn’t enough. The Golden Eagles were done in by too many turnovers (14) and an Oakland squad which shot 52 percent from the field.
Oakland led by as many as 16 points in the first half, taking a 43-27 lead on a Benson jumper with 1:14 left before halftime. But a three-point play by Steven Roundtree (Jacksonville, Fla.) and a three-pointer by Morrison with 22 seconds left helped pull ORU within 45-33 at halftime.
The Golden Eagles came out strong to start the first half, opening the final 20 minutes on an 8-2 run and cutting the deficit to 47-44 on a Morrison layup with 17:15 to play.
Oakland eventually pushed the lead back to eight points when a Benson dunk made it 52-44 with 15:25 to play. But again ORU rallied, outscoring Oakland 11-2 over the next two minutes and taking a 55-54 lead on a four-point play by Warren Niles (Cincinnati, Ohio) with 13:29 to go.
The lead seesawed back-and-forth over the next few possessions before Oakland regained control of the game. After ORU got to within 60-59 on a Tim Morton (Greenbelt, Md.) jumper with 11:21 remaining, the Golden Grizzlies scored the next 11 points to gain a 71-59 lead with 8:58 left. ORU never seriously challenged again.
Morrison was 7-of-15 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line, adding two assists to his team-high scoring and rebounding totals. Niles scored 13 points but was just 5-of-13 from the field. Ken Holdman (Tulsa, Okla.) and Roundtree each scored 10 points while Damen Bell-Holter (Hydaburg, Alaska) added 11 points, five rebounds and three assists.
ORU shot 46 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line.
Reggie Hamilton supported Benson’s effort for Oakland by scoring 26 points and dishing six assists.