TULSA, Okla. — Warren Niles scored 21 of his 29 points in the second half to help Oral Roberts pull away for an 87-71 victory over Southern Utah on Thursday night.
Niles, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard, scored all of his points in an 18-minute span after being shut out until 4:10 remained in the first half, when he made a 3-pointer.
The Golden Eagles (7-12, 4-3 Summit League) led 39-34 at halftime, then broke it open when Niles scored 16 points in the first six minutes of the second half to boost their advantage to 57-41. Southern Utah never cut its deficit below 13 points after that.
Niles, who entered with a 12.9-point average, was 7-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-13 on 3-pointers, made 9 of 9 from the free-throw line and had seven rebounds.
Oral Roberts' biggest lead came at 84-63 on Ken Holdman's layup with 2:25 remaining.
Damen Bell-Holter added 19 points — 14 in the first half — and seven rebounds for Oral Roberts, and Rod Pearson, who was 5 of 6 from the field, contributed 10 points and four assists.
Jackson Stevenett led the Thunderbirds (4-12, 1-5) with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting and eight rebounds. Matt Hodgson added 13 points and six rebounds.
"Jackson had a good game, he was comfortable with his shot and was able to get some results," SUU coach Roger Reid said. "I also thought Hoddy had one of his best games this year, he rebounded well and was a defensive presence. We got some good play from our guys, but give Oral Roberts credit, they played a good game too."
The Thunderbirds owned a 40-32 edge in rebounds, but Oral Roberts was 11 of 23 from 3-point range compared to Southern Utah's 4-of-11.
Oral Roberts played its fourth game in a row without leading scorer Dominique Morrison, sidelined after undergoing knee surgery. Morrison averages 18.4 points.2 comments on this story
The Golden Eagles have beaten the Thunderbirds 17 in a row since 2003.
Bell-Holter had 10 points in the first 10 minutes to power Oral Roberts to a 22-14 lead. The Thunderbirds responded with a 9-0 run and took a 23-22 lead on Tyson Koehler's basket with 6:38 left in the first half.
The lead was exchanged five more times during the rest of the half. Ryan Brimley's trey at 1:11 gave the Thunderbirds a 34-33 lead. Oral Roberts then reeled off the last six points of the half on treys by Javier Nasarre and Niles, who scored as time expired.