TULSA – Damen Bell-Holter scored 25 points and snatched 20 rebounds, and Oral Roberts took charge in the final 10 minutes and topped Northwestern State 80-74 in a battle of Southland Conference basketball unbeatens early in the league race.
The outcome halted a four-game win streak for Northwestern (9-5 overall, 3-1 in the Southland) and Oral Roberts moved to 8-7 overall and 3-0 in the conference with only its fourth home game of the season.
ORU used a 14-4 run to erase a 53-49 lead by NSU, who drew back within 63-61 with 8:05 to go before the Golden Eagles scored 11 of the next 13 points to take control. The 74-63 lead with 3:33 remaining never got closer than six afterward, with the Demons drawing that close four times as ORU held firm.
The Golden Eagles were 7 of 16 on free throws before draining 11 straight in their stretch run. ORU finished 18 of 29 at the line while the Demons, who had only five free throws in the game's first 33 minutes, concluded by making all but two of their 12 tries.
Warren Niles had 19 points and four steals for ORU, with Shawn Glover getting 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Golden Eagles posted a 46-27 rebounding advantage. It was not pivotal, as each team scored 23 second-chance points.
NSU got 18 points by DeQuan Hicks, 14 from James Hulbin and 13 by Shamir Davis. The Demons shot 45 percent overall to 48 percent for ORU in a game that had eight ties and 10 lead changes.
"They did a great job \getting the ball in the paint and got to the line because of it," said Demons' coach Mike McConathy. "We never stopped that. Niles and Glover had nice games as well as Bell-Holter whose numbers are outstanding. We didn't do the job we're capable of doing, and they closed out the game strongly.
"Bell-Holter and Glover by themselves out rebounded our entire team. Yet I don't think that's the key stat. We didn't get to the free throw line anywhere like we normally do. That's our fault because we didn't attack the bucket as we should, especially in the second half," he said.
The loss was only the second in the last eight games for the Demons, who played for the sixth time in 12 days. They visit Central Arkansas Saturday afternoon at 4 before getting home to host Nicholls next Thursday.
"We'll be fine," said McConathy. "Winning on the road is tough any night and especially against a very fine basketball team, and one that was playing inspired for the Sutton family. Give ORU credit for winning this game with a lot of heart and good basketball."
Golden Eagles head coach Scott Sutton and his brother Sean, an assistant coach and former head coach at Oklahoma State, were mourning the passing of their mother Patsy, wife of legendary coach Eddie Sutton, earlier this week. The Demons wore black bands on their left shoulders in sympathy to the Sutton family.