ORU Surges Past Western Illinois, 84-69
ORU (16-9, 10-4 Summit League) struggled in the opening 15 minutes of the game and trailed as late at the 3:02 mark of the opening half before putting away their opponents in the second period.
Luper recovered from a slow start to post 31 points on 12-of-23 shooting. She also contributed six rebounds, five assists and four steals. The junior passed Krista Ragan for second place on ORU’s all-time scoring list and is now 32 points behind Vivian Herron for ORU’s career scoring record of 2,192 points.
The Adair native wasn’t alone in ORU’s scoring attack. Bernadett Balla added 16 points, while Dominique Allen and Amber Carver each had 10 points. Carver added 11 rebounds for her first double-double of the season.
The engine driving ORU to victory was Jaci Bigham. The junior matched a season-high with 10 assists.
Western Illinois (10-14, 6-7 Summit League) got 19 points from Sadie Webb, while Saule Kontautaite added 16.
ORU shot an even 50.0% from the floor. The Golden Eagles are now 6-0 this season when shooting 50% or higher in a game.
Jerry Finkbeiner’s team struggled early until Balla caught fire. The freshman scored six straight points midway through the half, sending the home team to a 15-13 lead at the 10:02 mark.
But WIU stayed close and kept things interesting. Back-to-back three-pointers from Kontautaite put the Leathernecks ahead, 26-21, with 4:03 on the clock.
The Eagles surged back ahead with an 8-0 run. Christian Key capped the rally with a three, giving the home side a 29-26 edge at the 2:33 point.
The run extended into a 15-2 half-closing spurt. A runner from Bigham at the halftime horn gave the Golden Eagles a 36-28 lead at the break.
The advantage hit double-digits for the first time with 15:01 remaining in the game, as Amber Carver scored on a putback. The deuce gave ORU a 47-36 edge.
The lead stayed in double figures for the final 9:24, after a Balla two made the score 59-49. The largest lead down the stretch was 18 points for the home team.
Luper’s 30-point day is her seventh of the season and the 21st of her collegiate career.
The Golden Eagles are now 5-0 this season when Balla scores in double digits. The freshman is averaging 11.3 points per game in her last three outings.
Finkbeiner’s crew will play their final home game of the season on Monday night, when they host IUPUI. Seniors Allen, Georgia Jones and Jordan Pyle will be honored prior to the game, which tips at 7:05 pm CT.