Golden Eagles top Nicholls State, now 2-0 in Southland
BY FROM STAFF REPORTS
Saturday, January 05, 2013
THIBODAUX, La. -- So far, so good in Oral Roberts’ new conference.
Warren Niles scored 29 points and Damen Bell-Holter continued the hottest streak of his career by scoring 26 points and blocking four shots Saturday as ORU concluded a two-game league-opening road swing with a 76-63 victory over Nicholls State at Stopher Gym.
ORU evened its record at 7-7 and improved to 2-0 in Southland Conference play. The Golden Eagles are a first-year member but were picked to win the league in preseason.
“We’ve talked a lot over the years about the importance of going on the road in conference and winning games,” ORU coach Scott Sutton said. “To get a sweep in these first two road games was very important. It’s good to get out of here with a win.”
Just like in a Thursday conference opener at Southeastern Louisiana, ORU took control early by getting off to a blazing start. The Golden Eagles used a 12-0 run in bolting to a 19-4 advantage.
And -- again with the same formula -- Bell-Holter played so well in the paint that ORU, at least on this occasion, did not miss starting forward Steven Roundtree, who did not make the trip due to injury.
Bell-Holter scored a career-high 35 points at Southeastern Louisiana and is averaging 30.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in league play during his first tour of the Southland Conference. He defended Nicholls State’s leading scorer, Fred Hunter, and helped hold him to three points -- 15 below his average -- on 1-of-6 shooting.
“I think Damen has been great,” Sutton said. “He has dominated the last two games. Damen is playing at a level that we all thought he could play at, but we hadn’t seen it on a consistent basis. Hopefully this is how he’s going to be the rest of the year.”
Niles and Bell-Holter combined to hit 21-of-33 shots.
ORU shot 53 percent from the field and limited Nicholls State to 38 percent shooting. The Golden Eagles out-rebounded the Colonels by a 42-23 count but committed 20 turnovers. Sutton’s team led by as many as 21 points.
Dantrell Thomas led Nicholls State with 19 points. Nicholls State, playing at home for only the third time this season, fell to 2-10 and 1-1. The Colonels clipped Central Arkansas in a league opener Thursday.
ORU returns to the Mabee Center next week for its first Southland Conference homestand. Northwestern (La.) State is scheduled to visit Thursday and Stephen F. Austin, picked second behind the Golden Eagles in preseason, will invade the Mabee Center on Saturday.