Oral Roberts University honored their senior class with a victory on Tuesday night as they bested Central Arkansas, 76-69, at the Mabee Center. The victory was the final home game for seniors Jaci Bigham, Savanna Buck and Kevi Luper, and the trio did not disappoint, accounting for 52 of the team's 76 points.
Luper, the leading scorer in ORU history, paced all players with 33 points, while Bigham, the school's career assist leader, added 12 points and eight helpers. Buck was strong as well, with seven points, five rebounds, and a pair of blocked shots.
"Everything that (our class) has done, all of our blood, sweat and tears – they all mean so much to me," said Luper in an emotional postgame press conference. "When I look back, I'll think about all the wins that we've had and all of the records that the three of us have set, but mostly, I'll remember the fun that we've had and the memories that we've made."
Luper has plenty of wins to look back on. The trio went 45-10 at the Mabee Center over their four-year run, with a 33-3 record against conference opponents. Central Arkansas was the 35th unique opponent that ORU's senior class has beaten in their four-year career, and their 80th victory as a group, the most by an ORU senior class since 1983.
Christian Key added 11 points off the bench for the Golden Eagles (14-11, 11-4 Southland Conference), who shot 48.3% as a team.
Courtney Duever led the Sugar Bears (14-12, 7-8 SLC) with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Megan Herbert added 16 points and 10 boards.
ORU fell behind, 5-0, but scored the game's next nine points. A three-point play by Buck gave the Golden Eagles a 9-5 advantage with 15:53 left in the half.
The two squads traded the lead six more times in the opening half before ORU moved ahead for the remainder of the period at the 11:14 mark, on a Bigham three-pointer that made the lead 20-19. The senior was instrumental later in the half as her free throw gave the home team their first double-digit lead, at 37-27, with 4:20 left in the period.
The lead would stay at 10 going into the halftime break, with ORU up, 41-31. Luper led all players with 17 points, while Bigham had seven points and six assists.
Both teams shot the ball exceptionally well in the first half, with ORU at a 55.2% clip and UCA at 42.3%.
ORU went cold to start the second half, missing 11 of their first 13 shots. The Sugar Bears took advantage, storming back to take a 48-47 lead on a Kelcia Bufkin free throw at the 11:23 mark.
But ORU would not be denied on Senior Night. Luper gave the Golden Eagles a 54-53 lead on a jumper with 9:46 left, and the home team would never trail again. The lead would grow back to 73-64 on a Taylor Cooper three-pointer with 2:38 left, and ORU would go on to win by seven.
The victory keeps ORU atop the Southland Conference standings, at 11-4.
ORU committed just eight turnovers in the win and forced eight steals, with Bigham and Luper swiping four each.
The Golden Eagles take the weekend off before returning to action on Thursday, February 28 at McNeese State. Tipoff in Lake Charles, La., is scheduled for 5:30 pm CT.
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