Bigham’s Buzzer Beater Lifts ORU
Macomb, IL—Jaci Bigham drove the length of the floor and sank a leaning jumper as time expired to give the Oral Roberts women’s basketball team a 68-66 victory over the Western Illinois Leathernecks Thursday evening in the conference opener for both teams.
The Golden Eagles fell behind early in the contest, as the host Leathernecks jumped ahead 11-4 thanks to some quick three point connections in the first minutes of action.
Hampered by some uncharacteristic turnovers, ORU struggled to play catch up for the remainder of the half, and eventually went into intermission trailing 24-32.
By the time the dust had settled on the opening 20 minutes, ORU had committed 16 first half turnovers, connected on only 26% from beyond the arc, and failed to shoot a single free throw.
Western Illinois couldn’t contain ORU’s fire power for the full forty minutes however, as the Golden Eagles chipped into the lead and eventually tied the contest up at 53-53 when Kevi Luper stopped and popped to drain a high-arcing fast break jumper.
The hosts managed to regain the lead and move the cushion back up to five over the next few minutes, before another flurry of ORU offense, capped by a Georgia Jones trey knotted things back up at 63.
Bigham’s heroics began on the next possession, as the sophomore guard sank a jumper to give the Golden Eagles their first lead of the game (65-63).
ORU held on to a two point advantage with time winding down, but Western Illinois refused to go away, as a pair of Jackie Rieger free throws knotted things up at 66 with only six ticks to go.
Six seconds proved to be more than enough time for Bigham to work her magic, as she zipped past Leatherneck defenders, found an open look in the paint and released the ball as the buzzer sounded.
“I thought about looking for a three, but decided to drive into the paint and try for the floater,” said Bigham. “This is a shot I’ve been working on and as soon as it left my hand I knew it was going in.”
Bigham finished the contest with a game-best 17 points, while adding two assists, two steals and two rebounds.
Jones chipped in 14 points for the Golden Eagles, including a 4-10 effort from beyond the arc.
Jones also moved into seventh place all-time at ORU with 116 made career three point buckets.
Luper and Jordan Pyle each added 13 in the ORU win.
Valencia Kelly paced the Western Illinois effort with 16 points on 7-16 shooting.
With the victory, ORU moves to 4-5 on the year and 1-0 in Summit League action. Western Illinois falls to 0-6 on the season and 0-1 in conference play.
ORU wraps up the three game road trip this Saturday, as they travel to Indianapolis to battle the IUPUI Jaguars at 3:30 p.m.