Originally Published: Jan 29, 2010 3:24 PM CDT
Oklahoma Sports Staff
TULSA, Oklahoma – A second-half surge and strong efforts by a pair of Kansas City natives led Oral Roberts past North Dakota State 71-57 on an icy night in the Tulsa area.
Michael Craion led all scorers with 20 points while Dominique Morrison added 16 to lead ORU (12-10, 7-3) to the victory.
“I knew I had to play harder personally. I just got taken out of the game because I wasn’t playing as hard.” Morrison said. “So, I knew when I got back in there, I had to play as hard as I can and make plays for my teammates, and that’s what I intended to do as soon as I got back in the game.”
After leading 29-25 at halftime, ORI briefly relinquished the lead in the second half when Michael Tveidt hit a three-pointer to give the Bison a one-point lead two minutes into the second half. However, ORU stepped up the intensity defensively, and NDSU missed its next 16 shots.
Eric Carlson hit a layup to tie the game at 37 with just under 15 minutes to play, and that would spark a 10-0 Oral Roberts run.
“It was an ugly dogfight there for 25-plus minutes or so. All of a sudden, a couple 10-0 runs, and the game’s out of reach,” ORU head coach Scott Sutton said.
The key to the second half was improved play from Craion, who, along with Kevin Ford, missed much of the first half with foul trouble. He scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half.
“Craion was really good in the second half. Obviously, that was a big difference, keeping those guys out of foul trouble in the second half,” Sutton said. “We were able to get some easy shots, get to the free throw line. It was a much easier victory than I expected.”
“In the second half, I think everybody was able to buckle down on defense, get stops. That helped us out,” Craion said.
Ford put the game on ice with a pair of plays with under five minutes to play. First, Ford swatted a Carlson layup that would have given the Bison an easy two in transition. Then, Warren Niles rewarded Ford on the other in by lobbing an alley-oop that Ford flushed for the slam. That gave the Golden Eagles a commanding 20-point lead. Ford finished with seven points and nine boards, but his presence was felt throughout the game.
“I thought (Ford) was just terrific,” Sutton said. “He changes plays on the defensive end, he runs the court, guys like playing with him, and I thought he was terrific.”
The game was played despite icy conditions in the Tulsa area that kept many people at home Thursday evening. ORU will be back in action on Saturday when they host South Dakota State at 7:05 p.m.
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