A decisive rebounding advantage caught up with Oral Roberts on Saturday afternoon at the Lake Charles Civic Center as the Golden Eagles fell to McNeese State 79-68.
ORU (10-12, 4-5) was doubled up on the boards by the McNeese (7-14, 5-4), 48-24 in the loss. It was the biggest rebounding deficit for ORU this season. That margin also provided a 22-3 advantage for the Cowboys in second chance points.
ORU was led by Korey Billbury's 20 points, including a career-best four 3-pointers, and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Shawn Glover scored 13, but snapped his seven-game streak of scoring 20 points or more. Bobby Word added 10 points.
McNeese got double-doubles from Craig McFerrin (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Ledrick Eackles (22 points, 11 rebounds), as well as 10 points and seven rebounds from Kevin Hardin. Desharick Guidry added six points but 10 rebounds.
ORU finished the game 23-58 (39.7 percent) from the field, despite shooting 50 percent in the first half. The Golden Eagles hit seven 3-pointers, but hit just 15-of-25 free throws.
McNeese shot 45 percent (23-51) from the field and connected on 55 percent in the second half, and hit 30 of 40 free throw attempts.
The game went back-and-forth early on with McNeese holding a 10-7 lead five minutes in. The next four minutes were all ORU as the Golden Eagles rallied for a 12-0 run to make it 19-10. During that stretch, ORU got points from four different players.
Comfortably out in front, ORU took its largest lead of the game at 35-22 after a D.J. Jackson 3-pointer with 4:09 to go.
Shortly after that, the wheels came off for ORU as Glover was hit with three fouls in less than 30 seconds of play, giving him four for the game and sending him to the bench for the rest of the half. Even without the nation's 11th-leading scorer, ORU held on and a Jorden Kaufman layup with just over a minute to go gave the Golden Eagles a 37-30 lead.
With the chance to push it to double figures going to halftime, Word's 3-point attempt rimmed out and Eackles launched one from mid-court to make it a 37-33 ORU lead at the break.
A 6-0 run after halftime gave McNeese a 39-37 lead, their first since ORU made the run in the first half.
The Cowboys would continue to climb away and led by as many as 11 (62-51) with less than five minutes to play. Billbury momentarily stopped the bleeding for ORU with a 3-pointer, but McNeese answered with the next four to make it a 12 point game again before Billbury again drained a trey to make it 66-57.
Billbury's 3-point shooting kept ORU in the game after Glover picked up his fifth foul with 2:28 to play, and it was an eight-point game with just under two minutes to play.
Even with Billbury's sharp-shooting down the stretch, it wasn't enough to climb out of the hole and free throws by the Cowboys pushed McNeese to the 79-68 win.
ORU will return home for homecoming weekend, featuring a pair of home games, beginning with Southland newcomer New Orleans on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The homecoming game will feature the Golden Eagles against Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday at 7 p.m.