The Oral Roberts women's basketball team opened the regular season Friday afternoon with an 80-53 win over Drury.
In front of more than 3,800 elementary and middle school fans present for the annual field trip day game, ORU put together a strong second half to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.
In the first Oral Roberts got off to an emotional and spirited start, scoring 17 of the first 22 points for a double digit lead.
But after the first nine minutes or so of play, ORU seemed to force a lot of passes and shots that weren't open and resulted in turnovers and missed field goals. That allowed Drury to stay close and with less than five minutes left before halftime Drury had gone on an 8-0 run that pulled them within six points.
By halftime the Golden Eagles went on a 10-1 run and held a 40-27 advantage. ORU also held the advantage in shooting at 43.8 percent from the field, but Drury was better from the three point line shooting 25 percent to ORU's 22 percent.
It may have been close in the first half, but after the break, it was all ORU.
Georgia Jones came out and hit a three pointer on the first shot in the second half to give ORU its largest lead of the day and the Golden Eagles never looked back.
Paced by Kevi Luper and company, the Golden Eagles put together a better second half thanks to improved shooting percentages and big reduction in turnovers. ORU only turned the ball over four times in the second half compared to 11 in the first.
With 10 minutes left to play ORU was up 59-40 and Luper led all scorers with 20 points.
Drury went to its bench looking for a spark and ended up playing a total of 16 players in the contest, but they just couldn't control its turnovers or manage to get something going offensively.
As time ticked away the Golden Eagles continued to increase their lead and when the clock hit zero ORU walked away with an 80-53 victory for its first win of the regular season.
Luper led all scorers with 27 points on 12-of-22 shooting. Christian Key added 12 points for ORU while Jones tallied 10 points and nine assists.
Oral Roberts shot 44.7 percent from the floor and 26.3 percent from the three point line on the evening. They also managed 18 assists and made 13-of-16 free throws.
Drury on the other hand committed 28 turnovers on the evening and shot 35.2 percent from the floor.
The Lady Panthers were led by Katie Pritchard, who hit four three-pointers and scored 15 points. Erica Groose added nine points, while reserve Kylie Williamson led the team with nine rebounds.
"I was very pleased with first eight minutes of game- a lot of spirit and emotion but after that we were flat for the rest of the game-I don't know what it was, probably because it was the first game of the season," said ORU head coach Jerry Finkbeiner. The crowd was great, they held us in there and were great today."
"I am patient with the first game of the season because there's going to be some errors out there with our game plan and errors in our execution," said Finkbeiner.
"I was disappointed with post play on while night—we didn't establish any territory down there... they have to be a bigger factor of our game both offensively and defensively," added Finkbeiner.
The Golden Eagles still have not lost a regular season game against non-Division I competition during the tenure of Head Coach Finkbeiner.
ORU is now 1-0 in regular season play after winning its first exhibition games. The Golden Eagles will have short rest as they prepare to play on the road against Wisconsin on Sunday at 2 p.m.