CEDAR CITY Robert Jarvis scored 34 points, including 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute, to offset Geoff Payne's 27 points and lift Oral Roberts to an 80-75 win at Southern Utah on Saturday night.
The win kept the 14-5 Golden Eagles perfect in Summit League play at 9-0, while SUU dipped to 5-15, 3-6.
Southern Utah looked like it might pull off an upset as the Thunderbirds overcame a six-point first-half lead to take a 37-31 advantage into halftime. SUU led by seven early in the second half, but ORU went on a 12-0 run behind 3-pointers from Moses Ehambe and Kelvin Santiago and four free throws from Jarvis.
Jarvis' fourth free throw gave the Golden Eagles a 53-47 advantage. After Payne scored inside to break the streak, Jarvis hit a 3-pointer, his fourth of the night, to lift ORU to a 56-49 lead.
The Thunderbirds answered with a run of their own, outscoring the Eagles 9-3 to pull within 62-60 with 5:59 to play after a Payne free throw. Nurudeen Adepoju started the run with a 3-point play, then Tyler Quinney scored and Payne had another three point play during SUU's run.
ORU pushed its advantage to 70-62 but again the Thunderbirds battled back, with six straight points on free throws by Payne and Tyler Quinney and a Davis Baker layup, pulling within 72-70 with 1:36 to play.
From that point Oral Roberts scored all of its points from the free-throw line. Liberty hit a pair of free throws to give the Eagles a 74-70 edge, then after an SUU turnover he hit one of two to make it 75-70. Dave Marek buried a three SUU's only trey to pull the T-Birds within 75-73 with 46 ticks left.
SUU wound up fouling Jarvis in the lane with 19 seconds to go and the 5-11 transfer guard hit the first free throw but missed the second, leaving the door open but after Davis Baker pulled down the rebound he threw an outlet pass to Marek that sailed out of bounds, giving the ball back to ORU.
SUU quickly fouled Jarvis again but this time he hit both opportunities and after Marek scored on a layup with six seconds remaining, the Thunderbirds again fouled Jarvis and again he hit both free throws, icing the game.
"We had our chances tonight. We played pretty well against a big, strong, very athletic team," SUU coach Roger Reid said. "But down the stretch when we had opportunities, we weren't able to take advantage of them. We needed to execute and weren't able to a couple of times at the end of the game and that really hurt us.
"We're improving though, I can't fault our effort," he noted. "We just need to keep our heads up and get ready to play a couple more games next week."