ORU men survive UMKC for 13th straight win
BY Mike Brown World Sports Writer
Saturday, January 28, 2012
1/28/12 at 11:21 PM
It looked like it was going to be easier than it turned out to be.
The Oral Roberts basketball team got off to a fast start and led by 17 points before having to weather some anxious moments down the stretch.
But in the end, it was another win for the streaking Golden Eagles.
Dominique Morrison scored 28 points as the Eagles held off UMKC 77-67 Saturday night for their 13th consecutive win, tied with Kentucky for the nation’s third-longest streak, before 6,850 at the Mabee Center.
ORU extended its various other streaks, remaining unbeaten in Summit League play at 12-0 and retaining its two-game lead over South Dakota State. The Eagles’ next game is at SDSU Thursday night.
The Eagles extended the nation’s fifth-longest homecourt winning streak to 20 over two seasons and won their 19th straight Summit League game, one shy of a conference record.
They also improved to 20-4, reaching 20 wins on the earliest date in the school’s Division I history. And in their final Summit League regular season game with UMKC before going to the Southland Conference next year, they beat the Kangaroos for the 14th straight time since 2005.
But what might have been a celebration turned into a worry clinic.
ORU made 11 of its first 13 shots, led by as many as 12 points four times in the first half, and jetted to a 49-32 advantage with 14:26 left.
But the Kangaroos wouldn’t go away, and ORU head coach Scott Sutton accused his players of thinking “we’re gonna put it in cruise control and coast home to a win. That’s not what championship teams should do.”
And it wasn’t the right idea this time. UMKC scored 19 of the next 23 points, getting seven of Thomas Staton’s 15 points in the run.
Suddenly, the Kangaroos trailed 53-51 with 9:47 left, and ORU had to go to work again.
“I think we took some possessions off and they made some shots and got some stops,” Morrison said. “We can’t make mental mistakes like that toward the end of games and win a conference title.”
ORU senior guard Rod Pearson scored four points on a layup and two foul shots, Morrison scored the next four, and just as quickly the Eagles had breathing room, at 61-52.
They made it 64-54 when Damen Bell-Holter went high for Michael Craion’s pass from the high post, threw in a bank shot over his left shoulder as he was being fouled, and added a free throw. From there, UMKC never got closer than seven.
“I’m disappointed with how we played. It’s my fault. I didn’t have these guys ready to play tonight and it showed,” Sutton said.
“We certainly didn’t play with a sense of urgency and had absolutely no killer instinct. There’s no way a team who’s 3-8 (in Summit League play), down 17 points to a first-place team in the league, should get back in the game.
“I’m happy we won, happy we got our 20th win, but I told our guys that’s not my goal this year. I want to get 30 wins, I want to get to the NCAA Tournament and win a (tournament) game. All it takes is one game like tonight, and all those goals and dreams will be over.”
Trinity Hall led the Kangaroos (9-15, 3-9) with 17 points.
ORU's Roderick Pearson plows to the basket between UMKC's Reggie Chamberlain (left) and Nate Rogers during Saturday night's game in Tulsa. Shane Bevel/for the Tulsa World