Roberts' first trip to the Southland Conference Tournament was cut short on
Thursday as the third-ranked Golden Eagles fell 58-55 to No. 6 Sam Houston
State inside the Merrell Center.
Warren Niles and Damen Bell-Holter powered ORU (18-14) in the loss. Niles tallied
a game-high 19 points, while Bell-Holter had nine points but a game-high eight
rebounds. Korey Billbury had a solid night with 12 points, two steals and just
one turnover as ORU committed just nine turnovers as a team.
Sam Houston got 13
points from Paul Baxter and 12 from Terrance Motley in the victory.
ORU shot an
incredible 60 percent (12-20) from the field in the first half but couldn't buy
a basket in the second, hitting just five of 23 shot attempts (21 percent).
SHSU finished the game at 50 percent from the field, including seven
"It boils down to
they made shots and we didn't," said Scott Sutton. "They hit shots all night
long. They are a tough team, they really defend and really rebound. I thought
we handled it very well in the first half."
The Bearkats had a
31-25 edge on the boards in the game and hit seven of their 15 3-point attempts
while ORU hit just two of 12 attempts from long range.
intensity was there early for the Golden Eagles as they turned the Bearkats
over on their first two possessions and took an early 7-2 lead after a 3-point
play by Niles.
Getting baskets from
five different players, ORU had an 11-7 lead four minutes into the game, but Sam
Houston used a 7-2 run to tie the game back at 11-11.
A Billbury 3-pointer
momentarily held off the Bearkats, but a 3-pointer by Jeremy McKay gave SHSU
its first lead of the game at 16-15 with 9:59 to go in the half.
Locked in a battle
for the remainder of the first half, ORU finally got some distance scoring the
final six points of the half, including a tip-in at the buzzer by Brandon
Conley to give the Golden Eagles their largest lead of the half, 36-29 at the
Aided by a pair of 3-point
baskets, SHSU got back in the game and tied things up at 43-43 with 13:30 to
play, out-scoring ORU 14-7 to start the second half.
The game had just one
point for the next four minutes of action and ORU tried feverishly to keep from
giving up the lead.
The Bearkats finally
took advantage of missed shots by ORU and grabbed a 48-45 lead with five to
play after a 5-0 run. After a Bell-Holter basket cut it to one, Sam Houston's Baxter
hit another triple and scored five-straight to give SHSU its largest lead of
the game at 53-47.
Strategy came into
play in the final minute and a missed free throw by SHSU left the door open.
ORU received additional help as the Bearkats fouled Niles without the clock
running. His free throws made it a two-point game with 21.4 seconds to play.
Another mistake on
the ensuing inbounds gave the Golden Eagles the ball back with 18.8 to go,
still down just two.
Niles tried to finish
the job with a drive with less than 10 seconds to play but the ball fell out of
bounds and back to Sam Houston.
After a made free
throw, ORU had a 3-point attempt to tie with two seconds to play but it rimmed
out and the Golden Eagles were eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals
for the first time since 2009.
At 18-14, the Golden
Eagles will have to await a postseason bid or their season will come to a close
with the tournament loss.