TULSA, Okla.-Nevada out-rebounded ORU 45-29, the largest deficit of the season for the Golden Eagles, as ORU fell 68-59, Wednesday night at the Mabee Center in the first round of the NIT. Nevada (27-6) will now host Bucknell in the second round, while Oral Roberts' (27-7) season comes to an end.
Five players for ORU had at least 10 points, led by seniors Dominique Morrison and Roderick Pearson who each had 13. With the effort, Morrison made it 26 games in a row with at least 10 points to end the season. Michael Craion also ended his career with a double-digit effort with 10 points. Juniors Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles also had 10 points for the Golden Eagles.
Dario Hunt led all scorers with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Olek Czyz also had a double-double dropping 13 points with 10 rebounds. Deonte Burton hit all eight of his attempts from the free throw line and finished with 17 points.
The Wolf Pack held a 45-29 rebounding edge, converting 15 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points as they ended the Golden Eagles' 23-game winning streak. Nevada Shot 43 percent for the game, 54.5 percent (6-11) from 3-point range and hit 12 of 15 free throws. ORU hit just 24-60 (40 percent) of its shots and held a 5-15 mark from 3-point range.
"I hated going out like that," said Coach Scott Sutton. "We didn't play well. We got beat by a very good team, that's an NCAA tournament team. They certainly deserved to be in that tournament, but if you expect to beat a team like that you can't afford to play poorly in areas which we did. We didn't rebound at all, we gave up 19 second-chance points and that was a key going in."
A Pearson 3-pointer started the game for ORU as the Golden Eagles built a 5-0 lead, extending it to as many as eight in the first half after a Niles basket made it 13-5 in favor of the home team.
The Wolf Pack evened things up at 18-18 and again at 21-21 after the two teams traded 3-pointers. ORU would never give up the lead in the first half, despite Nevada controlling the ball with the shot clock off to end the half.
A 3-ball by Jerry Evans to start the second half gave Nevada its first lead of the game at 32-30 after the Golden Eagles held a 30-29 advantage at the break.
Every time ORU would try to pull away the Wolf Pack seemed to have an answer as the two teams traded 3-pointers and then traded old-fashion 3-point plays, forcing seven lead changes in the first five minutes of the second half. There would be a total of 11 lead changes in the game.
Despite a huge discrepancy in rebounds, second chance points and fast break points, all favoring Nevada, the Golden Eagles hung tight by taking care of the basketball, turning it over for just the third time in the game with less than eight minutes to play. ORU finished with just five turnovers, a season low. With 8:20 to go, a pair of Morrison free throws gave ORU a one point lead at 50-59, but it would be the final lead of the game for the Golden Eagles.
Nevada would go on a 10-2 run to open up a seven point lead, and hit free throws down the stretch to finish off the game.
The rebounding margin eventually caught up to the Golden Eagles as they shot just 37.9 percent (11-29) in the second half and had just seven second-chance points all game in the loss. ORU hit just two field goals in the final five minutes of the game.