INDIANAPOLIS, IN—Oral Roberts' sophomore Warren Niles drove the length of the floor and dropped in an uncontested layup with 0.2 seconds left to send the Golden Eagles past IUPUI, 65-63, in a tightly contested Summit League game in The Jungle on Saturday night. It marked the second straight year that Niles had beaten IUPUI at the buzzer as he also buried the Jaguars with a banker in the closing seconds in Tulsa last season.
"This is a tough, tough loss. We were one play short. We really wanted to hold serve at home. That's what championship teams do, is hold serve at home. Now, we're going to have to find some wins on the road and that's not an easy thing to do," IUPUI Head Coach #Ron Hunter said. "My guys really fought and scrapped, but we didn't make a play when we really needed it. This is classic IUPUI-Oral basketball. It always comes down to who makes plays down the stretch and they made the biggest play when they needed it tonight."
IUPUI (4-5, 1-1 Summit) trailed 61-57 after ORU's Dominique Morrison split through the Jaguars' defense and hit a tough runner with 24.7 seconds to play. After a timeout, IUPUI senior Leroy Nobles answered with a challenging left-handed layup over 6-foot-9 Damen Bell-Holter with 14.2 seconds left, prompting another timeout.
Out of the timeout, IUPUI trapped Morrison in the far corner and the ORU junior's errant pass went right to Alex Young, who converted the turnover into an easy layup to tie the game with 10 seconds left. Both teams opted against a timeout and Niles got free after IUPUI trapped the initial pass on the inbounds. The sophomore's layup floated just over the top of the rim and through the net to give the guests the win.
Steven Roundtree and Bell-Holter led ORU with 13 points each and Morrison and Niles both tallied 11. Nobles scored a game-high 21 on 6-of-13 shooting and Christian Siakam chipped in 13 points and nine boards in the loss. Junior Stephen Thomas also reached double-digits with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting, but Young was limited to a season-low six points on just 3-of-12 shooting.
The Jaguars went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half and was unable to get a critical defensive stop when it needed it.
A John Ashworth with 10:49 to play made it 48-42 and Thomas added to the lead on the next possession at the free throw line. However, IUPUI's next field goal didn't come until Thomas hit a runner with 57 seconds left to cut an Oral Roberts' lead back to 59-57.
A key sequence for Oral Roberts came after Siakam missed a potential game-tying jump hook with 2:20 to play. At the other end, Morrison misfired on a three, but Roundtree crashed the boards to maintain possession for the Golden Eagles. Given new life, Bell-Holter missed a jumper, but the long rebound came free to Niles with 1:35 left. Given a third chance, Niles swished a 15-foot baseline jumper to make it 59-55 with 1:11 remaining.
"We missed some chances, definitely," Hunter said. "We should've been quicker to some loose balls there, but we didn't block them out and keep them off the glass. You can't give second and third chances to a good team like that. It's those little things that cost us tonight."
Oral Roberts (4-4, 2-0 Summit) outrebounded the Jaguars 33-27, led by Roundtree's eight caroms, and shot 53.3 percent from the floor in the win. IUPUI hit just 41.2 percent overall and 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from three. However, IUPUI made up for the rebounding discrepancy by forcing 17 turnovers and converting them into 24 points.
An inordinate number of whistles sent players to the bench on both sides in the first half, forcing offense to come from some less likely sources in the first 20 minutes. Bell-Holter and Roundtree combined for 17 in the first half as Morrison, ORU's top scorer, was held scoreless before intermission.
The same held true for the hosts as Siakam scored eight first half points and Thomas chipped in seven for the Jaguars. Young, the team's top scorer, scored just two points on 1-of-4 shooting. He was one of four Jags starters to collect at least two personals in the opening half. ORU had five players pick up two whistles in the first half. The Golden Eagles led 31-28 at the break, but IUPUI opened the second half with a 12-2 run to take a 40-33 lead.
Nobles and Siakam combined to score IUPUI's first 12 points of the second half before Young hammered home a two-handed dunk at the 15:51 mark after a Thomas steal.
Both Thomas and Ashworth had three steals in the loss.
Tonight's game will be re-aired throughout the week on HomeTown Sports Indiana. Rebroadcast times include 1 and 8:00 p.m. on Monday, 7:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday. In addition, the game will be shown at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
IUPUI will return to action on Thursday, Dec. 9 when it takes on the nation's No. 2 team, Ohio State, at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m..