ORU wins 6th straight, beating Southeastern Louisiana
BY JIMMIE TRAMEL World Sports Writer
Saturday, February 02, 2013
Damen Bell-Holter and Warren Niles combined for 43 points as Oral Roberts won a season-best sixth consecutive game Saturday night, beating Southeastern Louisiana 65-59 at the Mabee Center.
This is why it qualifies as a mission accomplished:
After ORU lost a Jan. 12 home game to Stephen F. Austin, the immediate goal was to avoid stumbles before embarking on the most significant road swing of the season.
The Golden Eagles are unbeaten since and they’ll take records of 14-8 overall and 9-1 in Southland Conference play into games next week at Northwestern State and Stephen F. Austin.
Northwestern State is third in the league standings. ORU and Stephen F. Austin share the conference lead.
“You have a chance next week to put yourself in great, great position to go win a regular season conference championship,” ORU coach Scott Sutton said. “Or, if you go out there and don’t play well, you are going to find yourself in third place. It’s just a huge week.”
Sutton said there’s no way his team can play like it did in home games this week and expect to win either road game next week. He was displeased with defense in a Thursday victory over Nicholls State. And he was bothered that the Golden Eagles failed to land a knockout punch after building a big second-half lead against Southeastern Louisiana.
“You’ve got a team down 15 points on your homecourt, you’ve got to put them away,” he said. “You can’t allow them to get back in the game. We have done that over and over this year. It’s frustrating.”
Southeastern Louisiana went on an 11-0 run to get within four with 5:36 left. ORU stopped the bleeding by getting seven points on its next two offensive trips.
Niles was fouled in the act of shooting a 3-pointer and completed a four-point play. Then Bell-Holter rebounded a Niles miss and was fouled while cashing a basket, getting a three-point play to push the margin back to double digits. The Lions got no closer than six the rest of the way.
Bell-Holter scored 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his sixth double-double of the season and his fourth in conference play. Niles scored 20 points. Shawn Glover, who had been ORU’s hottest player over the last three games, was only 2-of-12 from the field, but contributed a career-high five blocked shots.
ORU led only 29-25 after a first half in which Bell-Holter was limited to nine minutes by foul trouble. He scored eight points in those nine minutes, confirming what was learned when ORU played a Southland opener Jan. 3 at Southeastern Louisiana: He’s a bad match-up for the Lions.
Bell-Holter set career-highs for points (35), field goals made (12) and free throws made (11) in the earlier game against Southeastern Louisiana.
In the rematch, he scored nine points in the first 8:10 after halftime as the Golden Eagles, at least temporarily, distanced themselves from the Lions.
Southeastern Louisiana, which entered the game alone in fourth place in the Southland standings, fell to 8-12 overall and 6-4 in league play. The Lions were led by Dre Evans and Brandon Fortenberry, who scored 16 points each.