With 28 turnovers and an opponent record 21 steals, Oral Roberts had too much ground to make up and fell 85-73 on the road at Northwestern State on Thursday night.
The loss drops ORU to 14-9 (9-2, Southland) and into a tie with Northwestern State (15-6, 9-2) for second place. ORU shot nearly 50 percent (27-55) but the 28 turnovers were converted into 34 points for NSU.
The Golden Eagles had plenty of bright spots, including a career-high 28-point effort from Shawn Glover. Combined with Damen Bell-Holter's double-double (23 points, 14 rebounds), the pair combined for 51 of the team's 73 points.
Northwestern State continued to throw wave after wave of players at ORU, playing 10 players, four of whom scored in double figures and all of whom scored at least two points. James Hulbin led the way with 19 points, while Shamir Davis added 14 and DeQuan Hicks and Gary Roberson each chipped in 12.
"The bottom line, and we talked a lot about it in the pregame, that you can't turn the ball over and you have to rebound, and that was about as poor of effort in both of those things as we've have in long, long time," said Coach Scott Sutton. "28 turnovers is embarrassing, and we gave up 20 offensive rebounds, they just whipped us on the glass."
ORU had success early, using a 6-0 run to grab an 8-4 lead three minutes into the game. Shortly after grabbing what would be the largest ORU lead of the game, the Golden Eagles had to withstand a number of Northwestern State runs, including an 11-1 run that gave the Demons a 23-15 advantage.
After a basket from each team, NSU had a 3-pointer fall from Hulbin to give them a 28-17 lead, the largest lead of the first half.
From there ORU started getting turnovers of its own, turning them into easy baskets and quickly whittled the lead down to four at 32-28 with 4:42 remaining in the first half. The advantage would finally shrink all the way to two inside a minute to go on Glover's 16th point of the half, which gave the halftime margin of 38-36 in favor of the Demons.
Early turnovers cost ORU again early in the second as the lead swelled to as many as 13 in the first seven minutes of the second half and got worse before it got better.
Despite falling behind by as many as 17 in the second half, there was no quit in the Golden Eagles and they cut into the lead, getting within 10 at 79-69 with two minutes to play.
Missed shots down the stretch prevented ORU from getting any closer in the final minutes and fell for just the second time in conference play.
ORU will remain on the road as they try to take down first place Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night at 6 p.m. That game will be televised on Comcast Sports Net – Houston.