HAMMOND, La. -
Senior Jaci Bigham turned in a masterful effort, finishing with 14 points and 11 assists as Oral Roberts University glided past Southeastern Louisiana, 81-62, in their first ever Southland Conference game. With the victory, the Golden Eagles improve to 4-7 (1-0 SLC).
Bigham wasn't alone in the victory, as Kevi Luper and Sarah Shelton each accounted for 18 points. Shelton's outburst set a new career high.
Luper crossed the 2,500-career point mark with 4:38 left in the opening half. The senior from Adair is just the 48th player in NCAA Division I history to reach the plateau.
Aja Gibson and Jameika Hoskins led Southeastern (7-5, 0-1 SLC) with 12 points each, while Elizabeth Styles had 10 points and five assists.
Freshman Felecia Achilefu added a career-best nine points for the Golden Eagles, while Christian Key and Taylor Cooper had seven points each.
ORU shot 54.7% from the floor, a season-high against an NCAA Division I opponent, and they edged out the Lady Lions on the glass, 37-31.
Misti Cussen's club got off to a hot start thanks to the court vision of Bigham. The senior assisted on four of ORU's first six baskets, including a wide open layup by Achilefu at the 12:06 mark that gave the Golden Eagles a 13-6 lead.
The road team continued to slowly build the lead, with the advantage rising to 19-10 on a Shelton free throw with 8:52 left in the half.
ORU took off on a 15-0 run to grab total control of the game late in the first half. A Shelton basket off of another Bigham feed gave the Golden Eagles a 41-23 lead late in the half, and they took a 41-25 advantage into the halftime break.
Bigham controlled the opening half, dishing 10 assists before the intermission.
ORU's first 20-point lead came with 16:12 left in the game, as Bigham was able to get to the line and hit a pair of free throws that stretched the advantage to 49-28.
The visitors took their largest lead of the game with 6:32 remaining, when Achilefu canned a short jumper to stretch the advantage to 76-44. The Lions whittled down the margin late in the game, but the final outcome was never in doubt.
Bigham's double-double was her second of the season and the sixth of her ORU career. She added six rebounds, a team-high, and three steals.
ORU will look for their second straight win on Saturday, January 5, when they face Nicholls State. Game time in Thibodaux, La., is scheduled for 2 pm CT.