TULSA, Okla.-An 18-5 Oral Roberts run, spanning more than eight minutes in the first half, was all the distance the Golden Eagles (20-14) would need to push past the Anteaters of UC Irvine (21-16) on Monday night in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament at the Mabee Center.
The first four points of the game went to ORU and the Golden Eagles never trailed in the game, winning their 10th home game of the season and reaching 20 wins for the second year in a row and the seventh time in the last nine years under Coach Scott Sutton.
Led by another double-double from Steven Roundtree, his third in the last four games, ORU shot 42 percent (26-61) for the game, including a sizzling 53 percent in the first half as they opened up an 11-point lead at the break. Roundtree had 21 points and 13 rebounds, along with a team high four assists. Shawn Glover added 16 points and Damen Bell-Holter had 10. D.J. Jackson posted an 11-point night, including eight in the first half as he hit double figures for the first time since February 16 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
UC Irvine got 15 points from Will Davis II, 13 from Michael Wilder and 11 from Chris McNealy and finished the game at a 40 percent (24-60) shooting clip and turned the ball over 16 times, converting to 20 ORU points. ORU had just 10 turnovers for the game and out-rebounded the Anteaters 43-33.
The Golden Eagles hit just one of 12 3-point attempts for the game, while UC Irvine connected on six treys on 17 attempts. ORU made up the difference at the free throw line, hitting 23 of 30 attempts (76 percent), the second time in as many games and just the fourth time this season in which ORU has gotten to the line at least 30 times.
“I’m pleased with how we’ve played the last two games,” said Sutton. “We’ve played much better than we played most of the year and I wish I had an explanation for that. I like where we are right now. I thought the second half we got a little sloppy and got careless defensively and probably got a little selfish when we got the lead. Overall it’s a good win and we move on.”
Even though the outside game wasn’t working in the first half, with ORU starting the game 0-7 from 3-point range, the inside game was on point and the first 12 points came from the trio of Bell-Holter, Glover and Roundtree, 10 of those coming in the paint, as ORU took a quick five point lead.
Getting a couple of layups on hustle plays, Jackson got in the scoring column, forcing an Anteater timeout after increasing the ORU lead to 16-7 midway through the first half. The Golden Eagles would extend it to a 10-0 run and a 20-7 lead before a Michael Wilder 3-pointer halted the run momentarily.
Jackson continued to play well offensively late in the half, scoring on back-to-back jumpers to give ORU a 34-19 lead with a minute to play. The last four points of the half belonged to the Anteaters and ORU went into the locker room with a 34-23 lead.
The first six points and 10 of the first 12 of the second half belonged to ORU and the Golden Eagles opened up a 19-point lead at 44-25 five minutes into the second half.
UCI made a run, and a Chris McNealy 3-pointer made it an 11-point game (56-45) with 7:33 to play, but four-straight by Roundtree kept the Anteaters at a distance.
After Roundtree pushed it back to a 15-point lead, it never got below 13 and the Golden Eagles cruised into the quarterfinals of the CIT.
ORU will now travel to Weber State, playing the Wildcats for the second time in just over a month after falling in an ESPN BracketBuster matchup on February 23 at the Mabee Center in Tulsa.