Oral Roberts University moved into the Southland Conference lead for the first time in four weeks as they topped Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 81-59, on Saturday afternoon at the Mabee Center. Senior Kevi Luper scored 26 points in the win.
ORU (13-11, 10-4 SLC) took advantage of earlier losses by Sam Houston State and Lamar to vault past both teams and into the SLC lead. Both the Bearkats and Cardinals are now 9-4 in league play, a half-game behind the Golden Eagles.
"This wasn't a pretty win tonight, but we're walking off the court in first place," said ORU Head Coach Misti Cussen. "We will celebrate this win; it was a hard-fought battle."
Luper drained four three-pointers and was one of four ORU players in double-figures. Sarah Shelton added 16 points, while Jaci Bigham scored 12 points and dished nine assists.
Savanna Buck had her second straight strong game, posting 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Ashley Darley led the Islanders (3-21, 2-11 SLC) with 27 points and seven rebounds.
Cussen's club shot 44.4% from the field and held the Islanders to 35.2% shooting.
ORU raced out to an early 13-2 lead, setting the tone right from the opening tip. A Luper basket gave the Golden Eagles an 11-point edge at the 15:03 mark of the first half.
The Islanders didn't record their first field goal until the 10:06 mark, but by that point ORU was already in charge. A Buck field goal with 9:33 left in the half gave the home team a 24-8 advantage.
ORU took their biggest lead of the half at the 1:57 mark, on a pair of Bernadett Balla free throws, and they held a 47-26 lead going into the halftime break.
Luper led all scorers with 16 in the first half, which featured a combined 25 foul calls.
The Islanders played ORU very tight in the second half, whittling the lead down to 13 points, at 61-48, on two Darley free throws with 8:37 left.
But the Golden Eagles clamped down, and the Islanders would get no closer. ORU restored their 20-point lead on a Bigham basket to make the score 75-55 with 2:17 on the clock, and they went on to win by 22 points.
Luper added five steals and two blocked shots, while Buck recorded three steals for the fifth consecutive game.
The Golden Eagles play their final home game of the season on Tuesday, February 19, when they host Central Arkansas. The game is the final scheduled home contest in the storied careers of Bigham, Buck and Luper, and tip time is scheduled for 5 pm CT.
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