ORU Closes Regular Season with 84-80 Win Over Omaha

ORU Closes Regular Season with 84-80 Win Over Omaha

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The Basics
Score: Oral Roberts 84 – Omaha 80
Record: ORU (11-20, 7-9) – UNO (18-10, 12-3)
Location: Tulsa, Okla. (Mabee Center)

TULSA, Okla. – The Oral Roberts men's basketball team honored its seniors in style, Thursday night at the Mabee Center, topping Omaha 84-80 in the Golden Eagles' final game of the regular season.

The win gave the Golden Eagles the season sweep over Omaha, and gave ORU a winning record at home for the 18th straight season, finishing the year 7-6 in the Mabee Center.

ORU got 25 points and 13 rebounds from Emmanuel Nzekwesi, while DeShang Weaver chipped in 15 points as the duo combined to go 16-23 from the field. Francis Lācis added 11 points and Kaelen Malone, one of two seniors honored before the game, scored 10 points and added seven assists and two steals.

Mitch Hahn was nearly unstoppable offensively for Omaha, scoring a career high 35 points on the night. Zach Jackson added 13 points and seven rebounds, while Matt Pile scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Each team had 34 rebounds, and Omaha had a 34-32 edge in points in the paint. Thanks to Nzekwesi's monster night, ORU's bench out-scored Omaha's bench 34-7. 

Quote of the Game
"At the end of the day you are just trying to get the win and I was impressed with the grit that the guys showed down the stretch. The crowd was fantastic. Their energy down the stretch was important and they carried us for the final eight minutes of the game." – ORU Coach Paul Mills

Turning Point
Down seven with 4:55 to play, ORU used a 10-0 run over the next 2:15 to grab the lead. Malone started the spurt with a layup, followed by a 3-pointer from Weaver and another bucket from Nzekwesi. Lācis capped the run with three free throws to put ORU up three and the Golden Eagles did not trail again.

Individual Leaders
Oral Roberts: ORU was led by Nzekwesi's 25-point, 13-rebound performance. Malone added seven assists and two steals, while Weaver and Kerwin Smith each had three blocks, matching both of their season highs.
Omaha: Hahn scored 35 points to lead Omaha, while Pile grabbed a team-best eight rebounds and had three blocks. J.T. Gibson dished out eight assists to lead the Mavericks.

Inside the Box Score
- ORU shot 53 percent (31-58) from the field, including 55 percent (16-29) in the first half. The Golden Eagles hit 41 percent (7-17) from 3-point range and 88 percent (15-17) from the free throw line.

- Omaha shot 48 percent (35-72) from the field, 33 percent (5-15) from 3-point range and 50 percent (5-10) from the free throw line.

- Each team had 34 rebounds, with Omaha grabbing 12 offensive boards. ORU had a season-low seven turnovers and Omaha turned the ball over just three times.

- ORU led by as many as 13 in the first half, but trailed by as many as nine with 6:16 to play before mounting the late 10-0 run to jump in front for good.

News and Notes
- With the win, ORU secured a winning record at home for the 18th straight season and the 24th time in 25 years. ORU has only had three losing seasons at home in the history of the Mabee Center.

- Nzekwesi earned his ninth double-double of the season, and the 21 of his career.

- Smith and Weaver each matched their season highs with three blocks in the game. Both have no had three blocks in three different games this year.

- Omaha is now 13-2 this season when scoring at least 80 points. Both of their losses have been to ORU as the Golden Eagles won 87-84 in Omaha to start Summit League play.

- ORU got its first win (1-10) when failing to out-rebound its opponent. It was the second game in a row, but just the third time in Summit League play, in which ORU has not won the rebounding battle.

- For the first time this season, ORU had less than 10 turnovers, giving the ball away just seven times.

- ORU is now 3-2 in games decided by less than five points.

- Before the game, ORU honored seniors Malone and Smith, as well as senior managers Luke Smith and Duncan White.

Up Next
Thursday's game was the final game of the regular season for the Golden Eagles and with the win ORU locked up the fifth seed in the upcoming Summit League Championship in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, March 9-12. 

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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