Box Score | Season Stats | 2020-21 Schedule
Score: No. 4 Oral Roberts 75 – No. 3 North Dakota State 72
Record: ORU (16-10) – NDSU (15-12)
Location: Sioux Falls, S.D. (Sanford Pentagon)
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – For the first time since 2008, the Oral Roberts men’s basketball team is going to the NCAA Championships as the No. 4 seed held off No. 3 North Dakota State, 75-72, Tuesday night in The Summit League Championship from Sanford Pentagon.
After building a 25-point halftime lead, the Golden Eagles held off a furious rally in the second half as Max Abmas hit a free throw with 15 seconds remaining to erase a 72-72 tie. The biggest moment came as Francis Lacis denied NDSU at the rim with two seconds to play preserving a one-point lead and D’Mauria Jones pushed it to three breaking a 13-year drought for ORU.
It was the defense that helped ORU to an early 5-0 lead as it held the Bison off the board for nearly four minutes forcing three turnovers and four missed shots. After NDSU evened the score and took a 10-9 lead, Kevin Obanor took over the game and dominated both ends of the court starting an 11-0 burst by the Golden Eagles spanning 3:14 hitting a pair of 3-pointers and a highlight-reel dunk to go with a DeShang Weaver triple. The margin stretched to 25-12 as Obanor found his way to the rim again on a nifty feed by Max Abmas.
ORU held NDSU scoreless for another three-minute stretch and pushed its advantage out to 21 points, 37-16, as Abmas converted an and-1 opportunity with four minutes remaining in the half. Kareem Thompson and Carlos Jürgens each hit from distance scoring the final six points of the frame for the Golden Eagles taking a 45-20 lead into the locker room at intermission.
The Bison came out of the break on a mission and closed the gap to 48-32, but ORU weathered the attack and stretched the lead back to 19 as Jürgens finished off an and-1 . Abmas added a jumper giving the Golden Eagles a 53-32 advantage with 13 minutes to play. NDSU found energy and whittled the deficit down to 11, 55-44, behind a 12-2 run that covered more than four minutes until Abmas connected for a corner 3-pointer.
A 3-point play by Abmas made it a double-digit lead once again, 68-58, as the clock wound down to four minutes, but the relentless Bison continued to chip away. A 6-0 run for NDSU tightened the game to one possession and a layup by Rocky Kreuser pulled the No. 3 seed even, 72-72. Abmas used his quickness attacking the rim and drew a foul. He made the second of his chances at the line giving ORU a one-point lead and a defensive stand highlighted on the Lacis block denied the Bison the late-game heroics. Jones was calm at the line hitting two free throws after grabbing the rebound and Lacis stole the full-court heave sealing ORU’s championship.
The Golden Eagles used a pair of defensive stands lasting more than three minutes apiece in the opening half and produced runs of double digits of their own building a 20-point cushion, but it was clutch free throws in the final seconds that sealed ORU’s tournament ticket.
Oral Roberts: Abmas proved he was the best player in the league Tuesday totaling 23 points on 7-of-17 shooting and was 8-of-10 at the free-throw line.
North Dakota State: Kreuser was a force for the Bison leading the team with 34 points and nine rebounds snapping two-straight tournament titles.
Inside the Box Score
– Coming off a 10-assist outing Monday, Abmas dished out six in the first half and had seven for the night, along with a team-high 23 points as the sophomore was named Summit League Championship MVP playing all 40 minutes.
– Obanor, who averaged 24.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in the season series against the Bison, was at his best in the first half posting 17 points and six rebounds before the break. He went on to record 21 points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the final minute on the way to All-Tournament Team honors.
– Thompson finished with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting reaching double-digit points for the third game in a row during the tournament.
– Jürgens was a force all night on his way to a career-best nine rebounds and chipped in eight points.
News and Notes
– After not turning the ball over once in the first half, the Golden Eagles gave it away five times in the first four minutes of the second half and nine times overall.
– It was the first time ORU had two players with 20 or more points in a game since Feb. 27 against Western Illinois.
– The Golden Eagles are making their first NCAA Championship appearance since 2007-08, a string of three-consecutive appearances for the navy and gold, and sixth overall.
– ORU was eliminated by the Bison two-straight years in the conference tournament entering the contest before turning the tables Tuesday.
For the latest information on ORU Men’s Basketball, follow the Golden Eagles on Twitter and Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the ORU Athletics app from the App Store or Google Play Store.
COURTESY ORAL ROBERTS ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS