ORU Unable to Overcome Slow Start in 75-66 Loss at Western Illinois

ORU Unable to Overcome Slow Start in 75-66 Loss at Western Illinois

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The Basics
Score: Western Illinois 75 – Oral Roberts 66
Record: WIU (9-18, 4-10) – ORU (10-20, 6-9)
Location: Macomb, Ill. (Western Hall)

MACOMB, Ill. – It took more than nine minutes for the Oral Roberts men's basketball team to get on the scoreboard, and although they got within two possessions on multiple occasions, the Golden Eagles were not able to climb out of the hole in a 75-66 loss on the road at Western Illinois, Saturday.

WIU jumped out to a 12-0 lead before Emmanuel Nzekwesi finally got the lid off the basket. ORU got within four in the first half, and trailed by just five with 3:53 to play.

Kaelen Malone scored 17 points, all in the second half, and dished five assists to lead ORU offensively. Kevin Obanor scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds while Nzekwesi had 15 points and 13 rebounds. Carlos Jürgens also reached double figures with 10 points.

Kobe Webster led a balanced Leatherneck attack with 13 points, while Zion Young scored 12. C.J. Duff, Isaac Johnson and Jordan Hughes each chipped in 10. Brandon Gilbeck had 10 rebounds.

Quote of the Game
"It was hard to get the ball in the basket early. When you hold a team to 44 percent you give yourself a chance, but I don't think our shot selection was very good and that put us in a bad situation early. Then we got within a couple of possessions, but again our shot selection put us in a bad spot. I did think Kaelen and Carlos did a good job in the absence of Sam (Kearns)." – ORU Head Coach Paul Mills

Turning Point
Western Illinois jumped out to a 12-0 lead as ORU started the game 0-11 from the field.

Individual Leaders
Oral Roberts: Malone led the scoring effort with 17 points and five assists, while Nzekwesi grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds. Kerwin Smith blocked three shots in just 14 minutes of action.
Western Illinois: Webster was the leading scorer with 13 points while Gilbeck had 10 rebounds and two blocks to lead the Leathernecks in both categories.

Inside the Box Score
- ORU shot 38 percent (24-63) from the field, 28 percent (8-28) from 3-point range and 77 percent (10-13) from the free throw line.

- WIU shot 44 percent (28-64) from the field, 39 percent (9-23) from 3-point range and 71 percent (10-14) from the free throw line.

- For just the second time in Summit League play, ORU failed to out-rebound its opponent as each team grabbed 40 boards and 11 offensive rebounds. ORU was out-rebounded 33-27 in a road loss at Denver.

- ORU had 11 turnovers to WIU's nine, but the Leathernecks used it to a 7-1 advantage in points off turnovers, and had a 28-24 edge in points in the paint.

News and Notes
- Malone finished the game with a career-high 17 points and was ORU's leading scorer for the second time this season. Malone and Obanor shared the team-high honors against BYU.

- ORU had two double-doubles (Obanor and Nzekwesi) for the first time since the same duo did it against James Madison back in November.

- After falling behind 12-0 to start the game, ORU whittled the lead down and got as close as four, 27-23 before Western Illinois closed the half on a 10-2 run.

- Nzekwesi returned to the court for the first time since February second, having missed six of the last eight games entering Saturday.

Up Next
ORU's regular season finale will be Thursday as the Golden Eagles host Omaha at 7 p.m. for senior night.  

For the latest information on ORU men's basketball, follow @ORUMBB on Twitter or Instagram, or go to www.ORUAthletics.com. Fans can also receive updates on the team by downloading the ORU Athletics Front Row App at ORUAthletics.com/frontrow  or the ORU Golden Eagles Live App in iTunes or the Google Play Store. For tickets, visit mabeecenter.com or call 495-7ORU (7678).

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