Last-Second Shot Sinks ORU Men at Oakland, 79-77
ROCHESTER, Mich.–Johnathon Jones sank an off-balance jumper from the baseline with 1.2 seconds left, lifting league-leading Oakland to a 79-77 Summit League victory over Oral Roberts, Saturday at the Athletics Center O’Rena.
Jones’ bucket snuffed out a furious rally by the Golden Eagles (14-11 overall, 9-4 Summit). ORU let a 46-33 halftime lead slip away early in the second half and trailed 74-63 with 3:15 left in the game before staging what was almost their second straight stunning comeback.
Down 11, ORU went on a 14-3 run with freshman guardWarren Niles (Cincinnati, Ohio) scoring nine of his game-high 30 points during the surge. Dominique Morrison (Kansas City, Mo.) started the push with a pair of free throws at 3:07 an Niles hit a driving layup with 2:28 left, pulling ORU within 74-67.
A dunk by Oakland’s Keith Benson pushed the Golden Grizzlies lead to 76-67 with 2:06 left. Two more free throws by Morrison and a three-pointer by Niles made it 76-72 with 1:04 remaining. Derick Nelson made one-of-two free throws for Oakland, making it 77-72 but Niles responded with another trey 12 seconds later as ORU closed to within 77-75.
Kyron Stokes (Mansfield, Texas) picked off an errant pass with 23 seconds left, leading to a game-tying layup by Niles in heavy traffic with 14 seconds to play.
Jones then took the in-bounds pass and raced the length of the floor and hit a fall away jumper over Stokes from 12 feet out. ORU had a chance to win it but Niles’ half-court shot hit the front of the rim as time expired.
The Golden Eagles opened play on fire, jumping out to a 21-9 lead just seven minutes into the game. ORU led by as many as 14 points (27-13) in the first before settling for a 13-point halftime lead.
But Oakland stormed back into the game in the second half, opening the final 20 minutes with a 22-1 run, taking a 55-47 lead on a three-pointer with 11:51 to play.
Niles was outstanding for the Golden Eagles, shooting 13-of-16 from the field (3-4 on 3FG). Niles, who scored a school freshman record 39 points at IUPUI on Jan. 14, is the first ORU freshman to have two 30-point games since Caleb Green in 2003-04.
Morrison supported Niles with 19 points, going 5-of-11 from the field and 9-of-10 from the free throw line.
The Golden Eagles shot 53.8 percent for the game, including 62.5 percent in the first half. ORU was just 3-of-7 on three pointers, but went 18-of-24 from the free throw line.
Oakland made 50.8 percent of its field goals, including a 53.1 percent effort in the second half. The Golden Grizzlies were 8-of-15 from three-point range but just 9-of-18 from the free throw line.
The 6-foot-11 Benson led Oakland with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Jones finished with 16 points and eight assists.
The Golden Eagles open a three-game homestand when they host Western Illinois, 7:05 p.m., Thursday at Mabee Center.