The ORU men’s basketball team was shocked at the buzzer by the California Baptist Lancers. CBU sophomore guard Milan Acquaah hit a 40-foot shot from just across half court to give the Lancers the win 70-69.
“This doesn’t deter us,” said ORU head coach Paul Mills. “We’re going to continue to do what we do. You just realize sometimes when you play that many newcomers, these kinds of things happen. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. This will be a learning experience.”
Slow offensive starts have been a hurdle to jump over each game this season for ORU. Against California Baptist, the Lancers controlled the tempo early and made efficient shots. After four minutes of play, CBU lead ORU 11-3. The Golden Eagles had a difficult time getting the offense going by giving up costly turnovers ending the night with 16.
“It’s disappointing that we gave them 13 more shots than we did mainly off of our 16 turnovers,” said Mills. “That continues to be an issue for us. We need to do a better job at taking care of the basketball.”
ORU got offensive momentum in the first half after a block from redshirt senior forward Kerwin Smith leading to a fast break layup.
It was a balanced offensive effort for the Golden Eagles. Junior forward Emmanuel Nzekwezi was one rebound away from a double-double. Junior guard Aidan Saunders and senior guard Kaelan Malone were the other Golden Eagles scoring double figures.
Mills utilized a steady rotation with bench players like Kevin Obanor, Kaelan Malone and Chris Miller logging quality minutes late in the first half.
The Lancers relied heavily on the play from senior guard Jordan Heading. He led all scorers with 20 points in the game. As a result of his play, CBU led ORU 33-31 at halftime.
The second half saw a tight battle with tough fouls. California Baptist made 15 of 20 free throws while ORU made 12 of 20. The Lancers were never able to extend their lead past seven, but ORU kept within striking distance the entire game.
From the field, the CBU got the victory despite shooting 36 percent opposed to ORU’s 48 percent.
Nzekwesi had two clutch scores in the last minute and a half of the game. Both scores gave ORU a lead after exchanging baskets with CBU. Junior guard Aidan Saunders hit a three with five seconds left to give ORU their last lead of the night, leading to the half court heave by Acquaah.
The Golden Eagles will travel to Provo, Utah to take on the BYU Cougars Thursday, Nov. 15. ORU’s next home game is Monday , Nov. 19 against Ecclesia.