ORU beats IPFW for 10th straight win
BY MIKE BROWN World Sports Writer
Friday, January 20, 2012
1/20/12 at 4:45 AM
Related story: ORU notebook: Good crowd for Oakland?
Maybe the burden of winning every single game is starting to weigh on the Oral Roberts basketball team.
For the third straight outing, the Golden Eagles won while playing less than their best. They waited until after halftime Thursday night before pulling away to a 65-54 win over IPFW before 3,583 at the Mabee Center.
Dominique Morrison scored 27 points as the Eagles stayed unbeaten in Summit League play while winning their 10th straight game, tying for the eighth-longest streak in school history.
They'll have a chance to match the longest streak in the Scott Sutton coaching era when Oakland visits on Saturday night for the final regular-season conference matchup with the Golden Grizzlies before ORU leaves for the Southland Conference later this year.
Sutton, now in his 13th season, was perplexed.
"This is the third straight game where we haven't played very well," he said. "It's a credit to (the players), we've found ways to win. But if we don't get some things straightened out, this streak won't last very much longer."
ORU survived the road last week, winning in double overtime at Western Illinois and pulling way in the final eight minutes to win at IUPUI.
Sutton thought the Eagles would start with more fire against a team that beat them twice last year. But ORU missed seven of its first 10 shots and fell into an 18-8 hole right off the bat.
"I think we were ready to play tonight, but we did pick it up in the last six minutes of the first half, and we picked it up in the second half," Morrison said.
ORU used its press to produce an 11-0 run. Michael Craion's steal and Warren Niles' 3-pointer put the Eagles up 19-18 with 8:15 left before halftime, but the teams seesawed back and forth for the next several minutes.
The visitors made it uncomfortable for the Eagles by taking a 35-32 lead on Antwaun Boyd's jumper with 16:22 left. Then ORU started a closing burst.
Morrison hit a jumper and Michael Craion scored a lay-up, putting ORU ahead to stay.
Craion was fouled and made the first of two free throws. Roundtree rebounded when Craion missed his second shot, and Morrison followed with a layup and it was 39-35 and the Eagles started pulling away.
Morrison's two foul shots gave the Eagles their first double-digit lead at 52-41. ORU then scored a rare four-point play when Craion was fouled as Morrison drained a 3-pointer and it was 58-45 when Craion made the first of two foul shots.
The Eagles eventually led by 15.
Sutton found a silver lining in ORU's second-half defense. IPFW was only 9-for-23 from the field over the final 20 minutes. The Mastodons' 54 points were a season low.
Craion chipped in 10 points as ORU improved to 17-4 overall and 9-0 league play. South Dakota State was idle, so the Eagles' lead grew to 1 1/2 games over the second-place Jacks. SDSU plays at North Dakota State on Saturday night.
Frank Gaines scored 17 points and Trey McCorkle added 11 for the Mastodons (9-9, 3-6).
7:05 p.m. Saturday
TV: KGEB-23/53 (TD, 10 p.m.)
Radio: KYAL am1550
Original Print Headline: Eagles pull away to defeat IPFW
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ORU's Dominique Morrison collides with IPFW's Jason Smeathers as Morrison drives to the basket Thursday night at the Mabee Center. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World