The Golden Eagle men’s basketball team sealed a 72-66 win against Western Illinois on Saturday night after a nail-biting second half.
“I didn’t think we could put them away like we did the other night [against IUPUI], but I certainly didn’t think they could get back in the game like they did,” said head coach Scott Sutton. “But, with us winning, I can look back and say it’s good to win this type of game.”
ORU was up 4-3 less than two minutes in and got off to a 14-0 run, leading by as much as 15 before the Leathernecks managed a layup. The Golden Eagles were up 38-27 at the half.
WIU fought hard in the second half getting within two points five times, but ORU was able to maintain its lead until the final buzzer.
“I thought our defensive effort the first half was terrific, aside from a couple defensive breakdowns,” Sutton said. “You’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re a very good defensive basketball team. The second half, what hurt us probably more than anything was losing Brandon to foul trouble. He brings so much energy. We’re at our best, especially on the defensive end, when Brandon is playing with energy and passion.”
Obi Emegano led the team with 26 points and seven rebounds, but Albert Owens was a force to be reckoned with. He posted 21 points, seven boards and five blocks.
“Ever since we sat him against Omaha, I think he’s really matured. He’s really grown up. He’s starting to figure things out,” said Sutton. “He’s come a long way in a little over two or three weeks. He’s starting to develop and play like the player we thought he could become.”
Kris Martin was the only other player in double figures with 11 points.
The Golden Eagles outrebounded Western Illinois 35-34 and scored 20 points off 15 Leatherneck turnovers, including two shot clock violations.
“It feels really good [to get another win]. It ‘s giving us a chance to get to the conference tournament because Western was one of the teams we knew we had to beat to ensure our tournament chances,” said Owens. “Although nothing’s set in stone yet, it’s given us a lot of momentum.”
ORU plays its final regular season home game against Denver on Friday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. before going on the road to try and secure its spot in the Summit League tournament at the end of the month.