ORU holds off Texas A&M-CC
BY Jimmie Tramel, World Sports Writer
Saturday, February 16, 2013
2/16/13 at 10:45 PM
Warren Niles hit two 3-pointers in the first 66 seconds of Oral Roberts’ Saturday home game against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
He added a third 3-pointer just two-and-a-half minutes after tipoff.
Slightly past the midpoint of the first half, Niles had five 3-pointers and 17 of his team’s first 19 points.
So, ORU rode Niles’ coattails and cruised to victory, right?
It wasn’t near that simple.
Niles scored 25 points, but the Golden Eagles had to sweat to secure a 56-51 win over the ninth-place Islanders.
“I’m happy we won,” ORU coach Scott Sutton said. “It obviously wasn’t how we would have liked for it to have gone.”
The Golden Eagles know they drive their coach bonkers when they relax after building big leads, yet they continue to torment him by doing it game after game.
ORU led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but then went more than 11 minutes between field goals.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi took advantage, rallying to get within one point three times in the last 4:34.
The Golden Eagles survived because they immediately answered each threat.
Niles, D.J. Jackson and Korey Billbury took turns scoring every time the margin was shaved to one and Steven Roundtree, playing only his fourth league game during an injury-sabotaged season, scored with 33.7 seconds left to provide a five-point cushion.
“We had different guys step up,” Sutton said. “When you play 30 games a year, sometimes you are going to have to get a little bit lucky to win a game. I don’t know if we got lucky, but we certainly could have gotten beat tonight.”
Because ORU didn’t stumble, the Golden Eagles were able to gain ground in the Southland Conference standings on league leader Stephen F. Austin, which was upset in a Saturday road game by Southeastern Louisiana.
Stephen F. Austin, with a 12-2 conference record, now shares first place with Northwestern State. ORU is one game back at 11-3. The Golden Eagles improved to 16-10 overall.
Niles, who leads the Southland Conference in minutes played, played all 40 minutes for the second consecutive game and ended his team’s offensive drought when he cashed a shot with 4:16 remaining. Before that, the Golden Eagles’ last field goal had come at the 15:29 mark of the second half.
Niles scored in double figures for the 90th time in his career and scored 20 or more points for the 25th time in his career and the 13th time this season.
Damen Bell-Holter contributed a double-double (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Jackson scored 10 points, his most in a span of 10 games.
Sophomore point guard Johnathan Jordan scored 20 points and dished seven assists to spark the comeback bid of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (4-19, 3-10). Jordan was 1-of-9 from the field and scored six points in ORU’s 12-point road victory over the Islanders earlier this season.