CONWAY, Ark.-Central Arkansas hit baskets at the end of regulation and overtime as Oral Roberts fell 86-84 in overtime at the Farris Center Saturday evening. The loss drops ORU to 18-13 with a 13-5 record in the Southland Conference, finishing third in the regular season. Central Arkansas improved to 13-16, 7-11 with the victory and will be the seventh seed in the upcoming SLC tournament in Katy, Texas.
The exciting game featured a pair of 30-point scorers, including Warren Niles who had 30 for ORU. Steven Roundtree and Damen Bell-Holter each tallied double-doubles with 21 points, 13 rebounds and 16 points, 11 rebounds, respectively. Shawn Glover added 12 points for the Golden Eagles, who fell despite a 42-36 rebounding advantage, and a 47 percent (31-66) shooting effort.
That was in large part because of Jarvis Garner's 34 point effort, including six 3-pointers, 27 points after halftime, and a 35-foot shot that fell through to tie the game at the end of regulation. Garner was aided by 18 points from Robert Crawford and 12 points from LaQuentin Miles.
UCA shot a combined 23-37 (62 percent) in the second half and overtime as the Bears erased an 11 point ORU lead in the second half. After turning what could be an ORU blowout into a close game, both teams battled down the stretch and the game had 11 ties and 12 lead changes.
"They haven't led their lessons," said Coach Scott Sutton. "We had a chance again tonight. We played well enough in the first half to have a double-digit lead and I told them at halftime, if you mess around and allow them to stay in the game, they'll start throwing in some shots, they'll hit some crazy shots, that's how they play."
Rolling early on the Golden Eagles led 15-7 after a pair of free throws by Roundtree. UCA cut it to a four-point game but ORU responded right back, using second-chance opportunities and an 8-1 run to open up a 23-12 advantage.
After an 8-2 run cut ORU's lead down to four (28-24), Roundtree took over again, hitting a long jumper and then throwing down a two-handed dunk, scoring the final six points of the half for ORU. At the time Roundtree's points made it a 10 point game but UCA scored the final four points of the half to make it 34-28 at the break.
After scoring the first five points of the second half, ORU gave up a 15-4 scoring run to UCA over the next five minutes as the Bears came back and tied the game at 43-43 on a Garner 3-pointer with 13:04 to play.
ORU seemed to withstand every run and Niles answered with a 3-pointer, but Garner continued to be hot from long range for UCA and tied the game again at 48-48. A Daouda Berete jumper with 9:58 to go gave the Bears their first lead of the game and they continued to hit from behind the arc and turned it into a six-point lead at 56-50.
The Golden Eagles finally caught a break and a plus-one possession for Bell-Holter, coupled with a technical foul against the Bears gave ORU a five-point possession and cut the deficit to one at 56-55 with 7:48 to play.
Niles turned it into an 8-0 run with his fourth 3-pointer of the game to put ORU back on top, 58-56. Neither team could pull away from the other down the stretch, and it was just a one point lead, 72-71 for the Bears with under a minute to play.
Glover's basket with 30 seconds left gave ORU a 73-72 advantage but gave the Bears the opportunity to hold for the game's final shot.
After a pair of timeouts, Garner got the ball again and heaved one up from near mid-court, sinking it and sending the game to overtime.
"We told our guys as soon as they caught it to foul," said Sutton. "They made a nice play to get it to half court and call a timeout. We planned to do the same thing and foul and we lost separation and Garner hit a crazy shot."
Again it was UCA ball with the chance for the last shot and after a timeout by the Bears with 4.6 seconds to go. This time Garner was off the mark but Anthony Borden was there for the put-back as time expired, giving UCA the 86-84 victory.
ORU will be the number three seed in next week's Southland Conference Tournament and will earn a first-round bye, beginning play in Katy, Texas, on Thursday. The Golden Eagles will face the winner of game two between the sixth and seventh seeds, Sam Houston State and Central Arkansas.