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Oral Roberts Faces McNeese to Open SLC Tournament

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 03/14/2013
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KATY, Texas - No. 1 seed Oral Roberts University will open the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament on Friday, March 15, when they face fifth-seeded McNeese State in the semifinal round. Tipoff at the Merrell Center in Katy, Texas is scheduled for 11 am CT, and the winner will advance to Saturday’s Championship Game.

Live video coverage of Friday’s semifinal is available on ESPN3, while radio coverage is available on KYAL-AM 1550 in Tulsa and around the world at ORUGoldenEagles.com.

The Golden Eagles (16-12, 13-5 SLC) shared the SLC regular season title with Sam Houston State, their third regular season conference crown in four seasons. ORU enters the game having won six of their last seven contests.

On Monday, four Golden Eagles were honored with spots on the All-Southland Conference Team. Senior Kevi Luper, the school’s all-time scoring leader, earned a spot on the 1st Team, while fellow senior Jaci Bigham, the school’s career assist leader, earned a 2nd Team nod. The All-Conference honor is the fourth for Luper and the third for Bigham.

Additionally, freshman Taylor Cooper and redshirt junior Sarah Shelton were honored as All-SLC Honorable Mention picks.

Luper, a three-time Summit League Player of the Year, was named Southland Player of the Year by College Sports Madness on Monday. She was also the only Southland Conference player represented on the publication’s Mid-Major All-America Team.

Entering the tournament, Luper ranks 17th in NCAA Division I history in points, with 2,804, and 8th in steals, with 453.

Oral Roberts is a five-time conference tournament champion, having captured the Mid-Continent Conference/Summit League Tournament title in 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

Head Coach Misti Cussen was an assistant on all five of ORU’s tournament title clubs, while current assistant Krista Binam was a player on ORU’s 1999 and 2001 clubs. Binam was the Mid-Continent Tournament Most Valuable Player in both seasons.

The Golden Eagles are 21-10 all-time in 15 conference tournament appearances.

Second-seeded Oral Roberts was upset in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Summit League Tournament, an 83-71 loss to Western Illinois. The Golden Eagles trailed by 22 points at the half and never got closer than seven points in the second period. Luper led ORU with 27 points in the loss.

ORU’s seniors played in a conference tournament final as freshmen in 2010, when they fell in overtime to South Dakota State, 79-75. Bigham scored a team-high 28 points in the loss, while Luper added 17 and Savanna Buck had eight.

ORU was 0-2 against McNeese State in regular season play. The Cowgirls took a 72-71 win at the Mabee Center on January 26, stealing the victory on a last-second tip-in by Arianna James. McNeese completed the sweep on February 28 in Lake Charles, La., with a 76-71 win.

The winner of Friday’s semifinal will earn a spot in Saturday’s Championship Game. Tipoff is slated for 1 pm CT, with live video again available on ESPN3.
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