Korey Billbury matched a career-high with 29 points and the Oral Roberts men's basketball team closed on an 11-1 run to beat Sam Houston State 80-73 Saturday night at the Mabee Center. After the game, ORU honored seniors Shawn Glover and David Mason, as well as Mikey Manghum and Jake Lliteras.
In addition to Billbury's 29-point effort, Shawn Glover added 21 points and Bobby Word dumped in 11. Led by Glover's eight boards, ORU (16-13, 10-6 SLC) out-rebounded the Bearkats 31-21 and the Golden Eagles shot 54.8 percent (23-42) for the game.
After missing their three free throws of the game, ORU hit 27 of their next 30 attempts, including nine free throws in the final three minutes of the game.
Sam Houston State (19-9, 11-5 SLC) got 26 points from Jabari Peters, who hit his first five 3-point attempts of the game, and 10 points from Kaheem Ransom.
The Bearkats hit 51.9 percent (27-52) from the field, including a 10-19 mark (52 percent) from the field.
"That was a great basketball game," said Coach Scott Sutton. "I felt like both teams played at a high level and both teams competed. I'm very proud of our guys, they kept battling even though we never could seem to get over the hump. Finally in the last few minutes I thought they stepped up and finished the game."
SHSU jumped out quickly and the 3-point barrage put the Bearkats in front by as many as nine in the early going as Peters hit a trey and a layup to make it 17-8 with 10:08 to play in the first half. The Bearkats went on to hit six 3-pointers in the first half.
ORU immediately went to work and used a 10-2 run over the next 2:40 of the game to make it a one-point game, 19-18. A Billbury three-ball tied the game, but it wasn't until a jumper by Glover that ORU took a 23-22 lead with 5:04 to play. It was the first lead of the game for the Golden Eagles.
Those points were part of a 9-1ORU run that made it 27-22 in favor of the Golden Eagles.
It was a short-lived advantage as SHSU went on a 7-0 run of its own to go back in front on another Peters 3-pointer.
Despite a long range answer from Glover with 20 seconds to play in the half, ORU found themselves down 35-34 at the break. It was just the eighth time all season ORU has trailed at the break and just the second victory when behind in the locker room, with Bowling Green being the other.
After halftime, SHSU got the lead back to as many as seven, but a Drew Wilson dunk and spinning Billbury layup electrified the crowd and got ORU to back within three. The Bearkats called a timeout to try and settle things down, but Billbury tied the game at 51-51 with a 3-pointer at the 11:56 mark.
The Golden Eagles continued to battle and finally took over the lead at 61-60 with eight minutes to go in the game after a Jabbar Singleton 3-point play.
It would be another short lived lead for the Golden Eagles and after the two teams traded baskets, Ransom and Peters scored five in a row to put SHSU back on top by four, 70-66.
Sparked by a Bobby Word 3-pointer that cut it to one, ORU went on a run to take a 75-72 lead with a minute to play.
A free throw by James Thomas was the only point the Golden Eagles allowed in the final three minutes and free throws by Billbury and Glover kept the Golden Eagles on top down the stretch as ORU took the 80-73 victory on senior night.
The Golden Eagles will head on the road for the final two games of the regular season, facing regular season champion Stephen F. Austin on Thursday in Nacogdoches, Texas.