CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas-A strong inside game, led by Damen Bell-Holter's fifth double-double of the season, led Oral Roberts (9-8, 4-1) past Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-13, 1-4) 64-52 in south Texas, Thursday night.
Bell-Holter had a game-high 27 points on an 8-of-9 shooting effort, and had 13 rebounds as he scored 20 points for the fourth time in five games. Warren Niles overcame a cold start to score 14 points, while Shawn Glover added 12 for the Golden Eagles, who won their third-straight road game.
Will Nelson had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Islanders, the only player in double-figures.
ORU dominated the paint with a 26-16 scoring advantage, and a 35-27 rebounding edge. Despite turning the ball over 15 times compared to the Islanders' 13, ORU made the most of the opportunities with a 21-4 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Golden Eagles shot 43.9 percent (18-41) for the game, the lowest of the nine victories this season, but held the Islanders to 35.8 percent (19-53), the third lowest percentage of the season.
"I thought we played really well in the second half until the final five or six minutes when we kind of put it on cruise control. In the first half we did a lot of good things, but we just couldn't make shots," said Coach Scott Sutton. "Warren had six of his best looks in a long time and just couldn't knock them down so instead of being up eight or 12 points we were up two. Damen was obviously tremendous all night."
Despite shooting just 2-of-8 from the field to start the game, ORU trailed by just two (6-4) more than five minutes into the game. A 3-pointer by Mike Manghum gave ORU its first lead of the game and after a quick back-and-forth, the inside game of Bell-Holter and Glover gave ORU a 16-10 lead, the largest for either team more than 13 minutes into the game.
A couple of 5-0 spurts put the Islanders right back in the game and they tied it at 20 late in the half. A basket by Zane Knowles with 1:43 to play in the half gave the home team a one-point lead but Manghum hit his second 3-pointer of the half to give the Golden Eagles a 25-23 lead at the break.
Despite a concerted effort from the Islanders to keep the ball out of Bell-Holter's hands, he hit five of his six shots and grabbed seven rebounds in the first half, helping ORU's shooting percentage that suffered from a 2-of-11 mark behind the arc. The Golden Eagles finished the half 10-23 from the field overall and 16 of the team's 25 points at halftime came in the paint.
Bell-Holter continued to dominate in the second half, eight of the team's first 14 points, six of which came from the free throw line, helping ORU extend the lead to 10 points.
The lead would go all the way to 17 thanks to a 10-0 run for the Golden Eagles over the course of three minutes in the second half.
Again the Islanders would not go away quietly and free throws with less than four minutes to go made it a 10-point game again as Corpus Christi went on a 7-2 run. A 3-pointer by James King, his first shot of the game, made it a 10-point game again at 57-47 with 1:49 to play.
Despite hitting 17 of the first 18 free throw attempts, things got dicey for ORU down the stretch as they tried to put the game away from the charity stripe. The Golden Eagles hit just 6 of the last 10 in the final 2:18, but hit enough to escape with the 64-52 victory.
ORU will face Sam Houston State on Saturday at 3:45 p.m. inside the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum in Huntsville, Texas.