TULSA, Okla.-The most lopsided victory against a Division I team this season, Oral Roberts out-scored McNeese State 22-7 over the final 9:10 of the game, taking a 75-54 victory on Saturday night at the Mabee Center. Coupled with a Stephen F. Austin loss to Northwestern State, ORU (12-8, 7-1 Southland) moves into a tie for first place in the league, while McNeese fell to 8-10 (2-6 Southland) with the loss.
The only bigger margin of victory for ORU this season was a 49-point victory over St. Gregory's. The Golden Eagles dominated the paint, out-rebounding the Cowboys 41-28 and holding a 44-22 advantage in points in the paint.
Shawn Glover tied his career best with 24 points, hitting that mark for the second game in a row, while Damen Bell-Holter added 22. The duo each tied for game-high honors with eight rebounds apiece. Korey Billbury also turned in a solid performance with eight assists, giving him 18 assists with just three turnovers over the past two games.
ORU shot 54.4 percent (31-57) in the game, topping the 50 percent mark in both halves. It was the first time since connecting on 28-52 shots at Nicholls State in which ORU has hit more than half its shots.
"Take away the first few minutes in the first half and first few minutes in the second half, I thought that was the most complete game we've played in a long time," said Coach Scott Sutton. "I thought both halves we settled in and defended. I thought we played with energy and I thought we played together. We ran the floor well and got some easy baskets. It was good to get Roundtree back. I thought he gave us a spark and some energy off the bench and we needed it."
McNeese was led by Kevin Hardy's 12 points, the only Cowboy of the 11 who played to score in double figures.
It was an early run helping ORU for the second game in a row, scoring nine-straight points in the first half to go from down 13-8 to grabbing a 17-13 lead. Another quick spurt, this time six straight, put ORU up by five at 26-21. It was the Golden Eagles' largest lead to that point, forcing the Cowboys to call a timeout.
The stoppage in play couldn't slow down ORU's offense as the Golden Eagles continued to roll, led by Steven Roundtree's spark off the bench as he scored six of ORU's final 12 points in the half. It was the first action for Roundtree since Dec. 22, returning from a leg injury. Brandon Conley also came up big late, hitting two baskets for ORU in the final minute of the half helping the Golden Eagles open an 11-point lead (34-23) at the half.
Despite an 8-10 shooting effort to start the second half by McNeese, Glover kept ORU out in front as he scored 10 of the game's next 13 points to push a four-point lead back out to 11 at 53-42.
McNeese was not done and cut the lead back down to six with less than 10 minutes to play, but Bell-Holter scored six of the team's nine points, pairing with a Mikey Manghum 3-pointer to make it a 9-0 run and a 62-47 lead with 4:48 to play.
In all, ORU out-scored the Cowboys 22-7 down the stretch and the lead grew to as many as 21, including the final 75-54 advantage at the final buzzer. After starting the half hitting 8-10 from the field, McNeese hit just five of its final 19 shots (26 percent) during the ORU run.
In the midst of a four-game home stand, which ties the longest of the season, ORU will be back in action at the Mabee Center as they host Nicholls State on Thursday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m.