TULSA, Oklahoma -- A strong second half effort wasn’t enough for the Sam Houston men to overcome Oral Roberts Thursday as the Kats fell 62-53 to the Eagles at the Mabee Center.
Sam Houston outscored ORU 40-33 in the final 20 minutes. James Thomas and Will Bond each scored 11 while Terrance Motley added 10.
Warren Niles and Damen Bell-Holter scored 25 and 24 points, respectively for Oral Roberts.
“Oral Roberts has a good team with some good players,” SHSU head coach Jason Hooten said. “We left them open too many times.”
Oral Roberts never trailed, jumping out to a 16-8 lead in the first four minutes and leading 41-24 at intermission. The Eagles came out hot, hitting 18-of-33 (54.5%) from the floor in the first 20 minutes. ORU ended the game 22-of-44 (50%).
“I was disappointed with our effort in the first half,” Hooten said. “But we came out strong in the second half and hit some shots and played defense.”
The Kats cut the margin to eight twice, the first time at 58-50 on a lay-up by James Thomas with eight minutes to play period. The basket was part of a 26-17 run for the Kats in the first 12 minutes of the period.
Another late run highlighted by three-point baskets by Nathaniel Mason and Paul Baxter brought the Kats to within six, 70-64, with less than a minute to go.
“We had two open threes that we missed in the final minute that would have made it interesting,” Hooten said. “Now we’ve got to turn around and get ready for a very talented Central Arkansas team.”
The victory lifted ORU to 15-10 for the season and 10-3 in Southland play to keep the Eagles in striking distance of first place Stephen F. Austin and second place Northwestern State.
Sam Houston dropped to 13-11 for the year and 6-6 in league action.
The Bearkats head to Conway, Arkansas, where Sam Houston will face Central Arkansas Saturday afternoon.