Morrison, ORU top UMKC
BY BLAIR KERKHOFF World Correspondent
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Dominique Morrison likes to make promises to himself.
When he played at Raytown High, Morrison said he’d never lose to rival Raytown South.
“But I did, once,” Morrison said. “Then, when I got to Oral Roberts I said I’d never lose to UMKC.”
That one he’s kept.
Morrison stayed perfect against his hometown school as the Golden Eagles prevailed 72-65 on Wednesday.
But it wasn’t easy. Oral Roberts missed all 11 three 3-point attempts and committed 19 turnovers. The Golden Eagles’ 12-point halftime lead shrunk to two with about 7½ minutes remaining and needed to make plays at the end to put it away.
A team that had knocked off eight 8th-ranked Xavier and Big 12 member Texas Tech as the run-up to this one battled hard to avoid a loss to a team it had defeated 12 straight times entering the game.
“We had careless turnovers, we gave them transition baskets and allowed them to get back into the game,” Coach Scott Sutton said. “But it’s a road conference victory. I’m not going to apologize for that.”
Morrison, who finished with 28, delivered the game’s biggest moment.
Kyle Korver hit a deep three to cut UMKC’s deficit to 68-63 with 1:07 remaining.
The Kangaroos, who had played excellent perimeter defense all night, decided not to foul and the move appeared to pay off when Morrison found himself tightly guarded about 20 feet from the basket and the shot clock winding down.
But a spin move created space and Morrison buried a 15-footer with five seconds left on the clock.
Morrison has always enjoyed his trips back home _— he scored 25 at Swinney Recreation Center last year _— and he was joined in homecoming production by Michael Craion.
Craion, a senior who attended Ruskin High, pulled down a career-best 16 rebounds to go along with 14 points. He was the primary beneficiary of a matchup advantage when UMKC had to play small because of a recent ankle injury to forward Trinty Hall.
The Golden Eagles took advantage on the inside, outrebounding the Kangaroos 41-17. And although Oral Roberts missed all 11 shots from beyond the arc, it finished over 50 percent overall for the game (25 for 49) because the going was easy in the paint.
“We had to go small and make adjustments,” UMKC Coach Matt Brown said. “They did a good job against us.”
Guard Roderick Pearson, a third member of the starting line from Kansas City, chipped in eight points and three assists.
For a while it looked like the Golden Eagles would breeze to the victory. They opened a 14-point lead late in the first half.
But UMKC, which had flashed zone in the first half, opened the second half in an active 2-1-2 and forced six turnovers in the first 5 ½ minutes. Back came UMKC, closing closed the gap to five, and the margin never got back to double digits.
“They trapped us, and it caught us by surprise a little bit,” said Craion, who had five turnovers. “But we kind of figured it out, and the big thing was we kept fighting and we got the W. That’s what matters.”