Niles hits 1,000 point mark as ORU posts 68-63 victory over Missouri State

Two free throws with less than 5 seconds to go made it a five-point game and gave junior Warren Niles 1,000 points for his career, helping ORU hold on for a 68-63 victory over Missouri State. Late threes by the Bears (4-1) got them to within three, but ORU (5-2) never trailed in the game and won its fifth-straight contest.

Niles ended up with a team-high 19 points, including an 8-for-8 mark from the free throw line. Dominique Morrison added 13, while Roderick Pearson had his second double-figure mark of the season with 11. Michael Craion chipped in 10 points, while Steven Roundtree had a game-high 12 rebounds to go with his eight points.

The Golden Eagles shot 41 percent (22-53) in the game despite shooting just 32 percent (8-25) in the second half. ORU also had a 39-31 advantage on the glass.

"Obviously this is a really good win for this club," said Coach Scott Sutton. "I was proud of how this team competed and the intensity level that we played with. We told them, Missouri State is a tough, physical team and would play with a high intensity level and we would have to match that. I thought our guys really did that tonight, especially in the first half."

Kyle Weems led the Bears with 22 points, 16 of which came in the second half as he tried to carry his team back scoring eight of the team's last 13 points. Caleb Patterson added 14 points for MSU, who improved from a 36  percent shooting effort in the first half to shoot 48 percent in the second, closing the 14-point halftime margin.

ORU shot 50 percent in the first half, and used a 13-0 run in the middle of the period to open up an 11-point lead midway through the half. The lead would get out to as many as 14 in the first half at 36-22, which is where the first half ended.

Out of the break, MSU immediately cut into the lead, scoring the first four points of the half to make it a 10-point ballgame again. Just as the Bears got it to a single-digit deficit, Mikey Manghum hit a big three to push it back out to 11 and 43-32.

Two long baskets by Weems, one from behind the arc, got the Bears to within seven at 57-50, the closest they had been since the 4:25 mark of the first half.

A three by Michael Bizoukas with 38 seconds left made it six (63-57), and after a couple of ORU free throws, another three by Weems got it down to five with 29 seconds to go in the game. Another long three, this one by Anthony Downing, made it a three-point game with 4.7 seconds left after a pair of missed free throws by the Golden Eagles.

Niles 17th and 18th points effectively put the game out of reach as he reached the career milestone in the process.

"He hit some big shots again," said Sutton. "Warren has been in a little bit of a slump and probably lost a little of his confidence along the way. It was great to see him play well tonight because he's a great shooter. This is a guy who scored 39 points on the road as a freshman ... he is the last guy that needs to have confidence shooting the basketball and I thought he played well tonight."

The Golden Eagles will finish off their five-game homestand with the conference opener against Southern Utah on Friday at 7:05 p.m. The ORU women's basketball team will also take on the Thunderbirds on Saturday, with that game beginning at 2:05 p.m.