Niles Leads Golden Eagles to Rout of Southern Utah, 87-71
TULSA— Warren Niles (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored a game-high 29 points in leading Oral Roberts to an 87-71 Summit League victory over Southern Utah, Thursday at Mabee Center.
Niles finished one-point shy of his third career 30-point game by shooting 7-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-13 on three-pointers. The sophomore guard was perfect on nine free throw attempts in 31 minutes, scoring 21 of his points in the second half.
Behind Niles, (7-12 overall, 4-3 Summit) took control of the game early in the second half. After his buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the first half gave the Golden Eagles a 39-34 halftime advantage, Niles opened the final 20 minutes by scoring 11 straight points for . A pair of free throws with 16:15 left in the game gave the Golden Eagles a 50-38 lead.
Two more free throws and another three-pointer by Niles made it 57-41 with 12:49 to play, ORU’s largest lead to that point.
Southern Utah (4-12, 1-5) didn’t let the Golden Eagles get too far away, closing to within 68-57 on a Matt Hodgson layup with 6:57 to go. But a pair of free throws by Niles and a short jumper by Roderick Pearson (Kansas City, Mo.) made it 75-57 with 5:44 left. A Ken Holdman (Tulsa, Okla.) layup gave its largest lead at 84-63 with 2:25 remaining.
The Golden Eagles scuffled through an unspectacular first half, but sophomore center Damen Bell-Holter (Hydaburg, Alaska) gave a lift. Bell-Holter scored nine points during a 10-2 run, including a three-pointer, a dunk and a pair of free throws, turning a slim 12-10 edge into a 22-14 lead with 9:31 left before halftime.
Bell-Holter finished with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and a 6-of-8 effort from the free throw line. He also added seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Pearson chipped in 10 points and four assists, while Holdman scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds and five assists without a turnover in 35 minutes.
The Golden Eagles shot 49 percent for the game, including 11-of-23 from three-point range. was 18-of-23 from the free throw line and committed just 10 turnovers.
limited Southern Utah to 41 percent shooting, but allowed the Thunderbirds to gain a 40-32 rebounding advantage. Jackson Stevenett led the T-Birds with 22 points.