Playing without leading scorer Dominique Morrison (Kansas City, Mo.), who is scheduled to undergo left knee surgery on Tuesday after suffering a weekend injury, the Golden Eagles lost their third straight game despite four players in double-figures.
After trailing by as many as 15 points in the first half (44-29), the Golden Eagles (5-11) trimmed the lead down to as few as seven points when a Bell-Holter layup pulled ORU within 46-39 with 52 seconds before halftime. Akron (9-5) eventually held a 49-39 halftime advantage.
Bell-Holter almost single-handedly led the Golden Eagles back into the game early in the second half. The sophomore center opened the half with a three-pointer, a pair of free throws and consecutive layups, the last one moving ORU to within 51-48 with 16:22 to go.
Warren Niles (Cincinnati, Ohio) converted a pair of free throws to trim the score to 56-55 with 13:49 left and ORU took its first lead of the game two possessions later when a steal and layup byKen Holdman (Tulsa, Okla.) made it 59-58 ORU with 13:07 remaining.
ORU twice pushed its lead to two points, but never got more of an advantage. Leading 62-60 with 11:04 to play, the Golden Eagles misfired on their next two trips and Akron tied the game on a Steve McNees layup with 9:33 left.
The teams traded baskets and leads over the next 90 seconds before Akron finally went ahead for good when a pair of free throws by Nikola Cvetinovic gave the Zips a 66-65 lead with 8:08 left.
Akron eventually pushed its advantage to 77-65 with 6:03 remaining before ORU again rallied. The Golden Eagles went on a 10-2 run over the next 3:10, moving within 79-75 with 2:53 to go. Bell-Holter scored eight of ORU’s points during the run.
A three-pointer by Javier Nasarre (Barbastro, Spain) and a layup by Holdman put ORU within 81-80 with 39 seconds left. Akron’s Darryl Roberts made a pair of free throws for an 83-80 lead with 25 seconds left to set up a possible tying basket for ORU. But Niles missed an open three from the right wing and Akron was awarded the rebound with less than two seconds left. Cvetinovic made one-of-two free throws for the final margin.
Bell-Holter finished the game 9-of-10 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free throw line. He also grabbed seven rebounds.
Steven Roundtree (Jacksonville, Fla.) and Niles each scored 17 points while Holdman added 12.
Cvetinovic led Akron with 17 points. Five other players scored in double figures.
ORU limited the Zips to 46 percent shooting, including 36 percent in the second half. Akron, however, scored 20 points off Golden Eagle turnovers, and their bench out-scored ORU, 25-7. The Golden Eagles dominated Akron on the boards, 39-20.