Despite a big lead in the second half, the Oral Roberts men's basketball team couldn't hang on, falling to Belmont, 70-67 Saturday night. The Bruins (5-1) claimed third place in the Great Alaska Shootout, while ORU (3-3) finished fifth.
ORU got a double-double performance from Steven Roundtree, who led the team with 13 points and 16 rebounds. The Golden Eagles also got a career night from Korey Billbury who set new personal highs with 12 points and seven rebounds. Ten of Billbury's 12 points came from the free throw line. Damen Bell-Holter finished with 12 points but six rebounds.
Blake Jenkins scored 22 points, and Kerron Johnson had 20 points to lead the Bruins. The duo combined to shoot 15-of-18 from the floor, leading Belmont to 57.8 percent shooting for the game.
ORU found it tough to find the basket for the second game in a row as they shot just 37 percent (20-54) from the field and 30 percent (4-13) from behind the arc. A 42-23 rebounding advantage kept ORU in the contest to the end.
Belmont benefited from a 58 percent (14-24) shooting effort in the first half, and also used a tip-in at the buzzer to take a 37-32 lead into the break. After battling within two and three points for the majority of the half, the Bruins took a 33-27 lead at the 3:11 mark before a Korey Billbury free throws and a Mikey Manghum 3-pointer cut it back to one at 33-32.
With Bell-Holter in foul trouble for the second-straight game, Kaufman played extended minutes, and sparked an ORU rally midway through the second half. Four-straight points by the back-up center brought ORU from two down to in front at 47-45.
After a Craig Bradshaw 3-pointer gave the 48-47 lead back to the Bruins, ORU scored the next nine to grab a 56-48 lead. Billbury grabbed a defensive rebound and led the fast-break, feeding Niles for an and-one opportunity, his first points of the game.
Belmont came right back and scored the next eight points to tie the game at 56-56 after a Trevor Noak 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down.
The Bruins would go back out in front by seven at 67-60 with less than two minutes to go. ORU quickly cut it to a one-possession game, but couldn't get the tying basket as time ran out.
ORU returns to action on November 28 as they host the Oklahoma Sooners inside the Mabee Center for a 7 p.m. tip off. That match up will be shown on ESPN3.