Senior Day was a joyous occasion for Oral Roberts University as the Golden Eagles crushed Sam Houston State, 80-50, on Sunday afternoon at the Mabee Center. Christian Key scored 10 points in her final home appearance, while fellow senior Sarah Shelton added two points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
"I have known these girls for a long time and I have really seen them grow and develop into great women," coach Misti Cussen said of her seniors. "I am so proud of who they are and who they will be 10, 20 years down the road."
ORU improves to 9-17 (8-8 Southland Conference), and they finish the home schedule with a 9-3 record at the Mabee Center, their 16th consecutive winning season at home.
The Golden Eagles have now beaten Sam Houston by a combined 80 points in their last two meetings at the Mabee Center. ORU took a 90-40 victory over the Bearkats on February 14, 2013.
Cussen's team now stands alone in 8th place in the Southland Conference for the moment. At 8-8, the Golden Eagles lead Southeastern Louisiana (7-8) by a half-game for the final SLC Tournament spot. The Lady Lions play Abilene Christian in a makeup game on Tuesday afternoon. Directly ahead of ORU, both Northwestern State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi are 9-7 in the league, tied for 6th place. Houston Baptist trails ORU by a full game, at 7-9.
ORU's defensive chops were evident on Sunday as they held the Bearkats to 34.4 percent shooting and forced 23 turnovers. The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, shot 51.0 percent from the field.
A pair of freshmen led ORU in scoring on Sunday, as Dorottya Balla and Kaylan Mayberry each poured in 17 points. Bernadett Balla added 12. Of ORU's 80 points, 50 came from reserve players.
The Bearkats (11-16, 6-10 Southland Conference) were led by Angela Beadle, who scored 11 points.
Sam Houston's offense was as cold as the weather to start the game, and ORU was able to gradually build a significant lead. A 13-2 run late in the half gave the home side a 26-14 lead with 5:49 on the clock.
The lead rose to 15 on a Bernadett Balla layup with 4:32 left in the half, making the score 30-15. At the half, the Golden Eagles held a 34-19 advantage.
The ORU defense was at its best in the first half. SHSU was held to just 26.9 percent shooting in the opening period, and they turned it over 14 times. Key led all scorers with 10 points at the break.
The Golden Eagles pushed the lead out of reach early in the second half. Mayberry drained a three-pointer less than a minute into the period to make the score 39-19, and Dorottya Balla pushed it to 30 points, at 51-21, on a three-ball at the 14:10 mark.
ORU's lead was never less than 25 points during the game's final 14 minutes. The Golden Eagles were able to clear the bench, with all 11 active players seeing court time and 10 tallying at least one point.
The 30-point margin of victory was ORU's largest since a 96-34 win over Evangel on December 5, 2012.
The Golden Eagles likely need at least one victory on the season's final weekend to secure a Southland Conference Tournament berth. ORU plays their next-to-last regular season game on Thursday against Stephen F. Austin. Tipoff in Nacogdoches, Texas is scheduled for 6 p.m. CT.