ORU comes up short against SFA
BY Staff Reports
Sunday, February 10, 2013
2/10/13 at 8:11 AM
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Oral Roberts entered the biggest road swing of the Southland Conference season in a tie for first place.
The Golden Eagles are coming home in third place.
Playing more shorthanded than expected, ORU was beaten 77-67 Saturday night by league leader Stephen F. Austin. The loss comes on the heels of a Thursday defeat at Northwestern State, which took advantage of the Golden Eagles' winless road trip to secure sole possession of second place.
Finishing in the top two of the regular-season standings is vital because the Southland's No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will receive byes into the semifinal round of the conference's postseason tournament.
ORU (14-10 overall, 9-3 in Southland games) will need help to climb above third place because the Golden Eagles don't have any games remaining against the top two teams in the standings, although Northwestern State (16-6, 10-2) still must play at Stephen F. Austin (20-2, 11-1).
In four games against Stephen F. Austin and Northwestern State, ORU had preseason all-Southland player Steven Roundtree available for none of them. Injuries have kept Roundtree on the bench for all but two league games and he stayed home for the most recent road swing because he will have an MRI exam on a slow-to-heal foot.
Of course, the Golden Eagles knew they would be without Roundtree against Stephen F. Austin.
What they didn't know was that they would be without Shawn Glover for a half and without Korey Billbury for essentially a half and without a point from Warren Niles for the first 23 minutes.
And those were handicaps ORU couldn't afford when facing an opponent that leads the nation in scoring defense.
Glover sustained a lacerated eyelid two possessions into the second half. Billbury fouled out in 21 minutes. Niles scored all of his 19 points after halftime.
ORU coach Scott Sutton said it hurt to lose Glover, who wore an ice pack on his left eyelid while his teammates tried to rally from a second-half deficit that grew to as much as 16 points.
"We thought all along Shawn was a guy that (gave us) an advantage," Sutton said. "I thought they would have a hard time with him."
Glover scored 12 first-half points and missed shots (he finished 4-of-14 from the field) that he normally makes, according to Sutton. Glover and senior post player Damen Bell-Holter (who collected 22 points and 10 rebounds) were go-to players in the early going as ORU raced to a 10-3 advantage.
Turning point? The Golden Eagles trailed 28-26 before being held without a field goal in the last four minutes of the first half. Two possessions into the second half, the Lumberjacks led by 15 and Glover was on the bench getting treatment from athletic trainer John Joslin.
Stephen F. Austin won a 15th consecutive home game and held a 54th consecutive opponent below 70 points. The Lumberjacks entered Saturday allowing only 44.6 points per game at home.