Oral Roberts University's 2013-14 season came to an end on Thursday afternoon as the Golden Eagles were defeated by Nicholls State, 77-66, in the firstRound of the 2014 Southland Conference Tournament. ORU's season ends at 9-20 with the loss.
Nicholls (17-13) advances to play Northwestern State on Friday.
"Congratulations to Nicholls. They finished well today and that was our Achilles heel," said ORU coach Misti Cussen. "It's kind of been our Achilles heel this year. We haven't finished not only possessions but games."
Playing her final collegiate game, Christian Key led the Golden Eagles with 16 points and five assists. Fellow senior Sarah Shelton added seven points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots in her last game in blue and gold.
The Colonels won the game on the strength of 14 made three-pointers, which matched a SLC Tournament single-game record. Emani White drained five trifectas and scored a game-high 24 points, while KK Babin hit four three-balls and scored 16.
Nicholls also controlled the glass, collecting 41 rebounds to ORU's 35. The Colonels snatched 20 offensive boards and turned them into 22 second chance points.
Freshman Kaylan Mayberry scored 15 points in the loss. She and Key each hit four three-pointers, and Noora Jaervikangas added a pair of threes and scored eight points. As a team, ORU was 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) from outside and shot 41 percent for the game.
Nicholls was 14-for-28 from deep and shot 39 percent overall.
Jenny Nash added 15 points for the Colonels, and Taylor Morrison scored 10.
ORU got off to a bad start, turning the ball over four times on their first five possessions. Nicholls took advantage, racing out to a 12-1 lead on a Nash three-pointer four minutes into the game.
But the Golden Eagles settled down and gradually worked their way back into the game. A 9-0 run, capped by a corner jumper from Jaervikangas, gave Cussen's team their first lead, 16-15, with 9:40 on the clock.
The momentum was short-lived. Nicholls responded to their first deficit by hitting three-pointers on three straight possessions. A Jasmine Scott layup punctuated the Colonel run at 11 straight and gave Nicholls a 26-16 lead at the 6:44 mark.
Cussen's club battled back again. The Golden Eagles tied the game at 34-all on a Tysia Manuel fast break bucket with seconds left in the half, and they went into the locker room down, 37-34.
ORU shot 41.4 percent in the half, with Mayberry and Key leading the way with six points each.
The Golden Eagles were down six early in the second half when they caught fire from three-point range. Jaervikangas, Key and Mayberry hit consecutive three-pointers, with the last bomb giving ORU a 45-42 lead with 15:13 remaining.
ORU's final lead came with 12:11 left, when Dorottya Balla nailed a jumper to make the score 49-46. The Colonels came back with nine straight points, including two threes from White, to reclaim a 55-49 edge.
The Golden Eagles went cold in the game's final 12 minutes, missing 11 of their final 18 shots. The Nicholls lead hit double-figures at the 2:29 mark, and the Colonels were able to salt the game away.
Key's career ends with 149 made three-pointers, sixth-most in school history, while Shelton concludes her career fifth on the school's career blocks list, with 99. Shelton is also the school record holder in career field goal percentage, at 63.1%.
Both Shelton and Key were integral parts of ORU's 2012-13 club, which won the Southland Conference regular season and tournament titles and earned the school's sixth NCAA Tournament appearance.