SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (SUMMIT LEAGUE) – The No. 5 seed had won 19 of the previous 35 meetings against the No. 4 seed in The Summit League quarterfinals, but Oral Roberts narrowed that gap on Sunday with a well-balanced 79-52 win over fifth-seeded Omaha.
Down 6-2 less than three minutes into the game, the Golden Eagles used a 9-0 run to erase that deficit. ORU would push its advantage to 16-9 on the first of six three-point for Max Abmas on the night. His first triple drew a timeout from the Omaha bench with 11:37 left in the first half.
The Mavericks kept clawing back and used a 6-0 spurt later in the half to cut the ORU lead to 18-17 with 7:25 left in the half and while they never regained the lead, they never let game get out of hand either.
It looked like it would be a one-point lead for the Golden Eagles at the break, but with 2.2 seconds on the first-half clock Deondre Burns delivered a perfect pass to Emmanuel Nzekwesi who beat the buzzer with a layup to send ORU to the locker room up 27-24.
Neither team shot well in the first half and Omaha’s Matt Pile had 17 of his tournament-record tying 21 rebounds by halftime. Those fortunes changed after the break for ORU, who 54 percent after the break to put the game away.
Oral Roberts started fast out of halftime, scoring 11 of the first 15 points of the second half to reach its first double-figure lead of the game at 39-28. That lead would grow to as many as 15 at 49-34 midway through the half.
The Mavericks trimmed their deficit down to as few as 10 points but a couple of Abmas triples with just over five minutes left sparked a game-clinching 14-0 Golden Eagles’ run that had them ahead by 28.
Abmas led four Golden Eagles, all starters, in double figures with a game-high 20 points. Burns added 17 and both Nzekwesi and Kevin Obanor added 13. Obanor grabbed 11 rebounds to complete the game’s only double-double.
KJ Robinson led the Mavericks with 15 points, with JT Gibson adding 14 in the loss. As good as Pile was on the glass, ORU’s interior defense limited the Defensive Player of the Year to just two points.
The Golden Eagles advance to play top-seed North Dakota State on Monday at 6 p.m CT.
ORU: Last 2.2 seconds of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half. Oral Roberts went the length of the court in the final 2.2 seconds of the first half and converted a layup right before the horn to take a 27-24 lead at halftime. The Golden Eagles then outscored the Mavericks 11-4 in the first four minutes of the second half to open a 39-28 lead.
Inside the Box Score
Matt Pile pulled down 11 boards in the first six minutes of the game and set a career-high and tied a Summit League single-game tournament record with 21 rebounds.
Pile shattered his previous career-high of 16 rebounds, set vs. Montana on Dec. 21, 2019.
Obanor’s seventh double-double of the season gives him 14 for his career. He also had a 25-point, 10-rebound double-double in a quarterfinal-loss to NDSU last season.
ORU outscored Omaha 27-12 on 3-point shots, and 36-20 on points in the paint.
Oral Roberts turned 17 Omaha turnovers into 17 points, while the Mavericks turned seven Golden Eagle turnovers into just seven points.
News & Notes
Pile now shares the tournament record with 21 rebounds with ORU’s Rocky Walls, who grabbed that same amount vs. Southern Utah on March 1, 1998.
Oral Roberts improves to 22-16 in the tournament overall and to 13-6 in the quarterfinals.
Omaha falls to 4-5 in the tournament overall and to 2-3 in the quarterfinals. The Mavericks had advanced to the title game in two of the last three tournaments.
Sunday’s game marked the 15th meeting between ORU and Omaha but the first in the Summit League Championships. ORU leads the all-time series 11-4.
In Summit League tournament history, the No. 5 seed holds a 19-17 advantage over the No. 4 seed.