Fifteen three-pointers, a more cohesive defensive presence and possibly Head Coach Scott Sutton’s “lucky” plaid suit coat helped the ORU men’s basketball team snap its seven game losing streak with a 95-63 defeat of John Brown University on Saturday afternoon at the Mabee Center.
ORU’s record is now 2-8, this was the first win since the home opener against Rogers State nearly a month ago.
“It feels good. I felt like we just needed a little momentum, a little more confidence,” said sophomore guard Kris Martin. “I feel like this is a turning point in our season. We went back to the basics in practice. We worked hard on our defense and fundamentals and came out and executed it.”
The Golden Eagles came home and shot 61.5 percent from the field and 60 percent from three, much better than their season averages of 40.6 percent and 36.1 percent, respectively.
“We needed that game, obviously,” Sutton said. “It came at a great time and I’m pleased with how our guys handled it, especially on the offensive end. They shared the basketball, we moved without the basketball and didn’t get selfish. We had 21 assists and obviously shot the ball well.”
Five players finished in double figures, led by Martin with 17 and senior Jalen Bradley with 15. Freshmen Jontray Harris and Chris Miller also posted more than nine points for the first time this season.
Bench production has been lacking this season as most of the players, such as Harris and Miller, have seen few minutes due to the strength of schedule. Today, however, it proved confident posting 35 points. All 11 active players scored for ORU, including senior Isaac Gilliam, of whom Sutton spoke highly.
“I told them it was a game this team owed to Isaac to go out there and play as hard as they can play,” he said. “Isaac is a great young man, he works his tail off. He’s one of our walk-ons and he doesn’t get this opportunity very often.”
The Golden Eagles outrebounded JBU 37-27, forced 13 turnovers while keeping theirs at eight and recorded seven steals and 21 assists.
Overall, Sutton was pleased with the team’s efforts despite some defensive breakdowns and lack of scoring from the free-throw line. He said it wasn’t necessarily a negative, but the team will work on being more aggressive and drawing fouls, citing former players Dominique Morrison and Obi Emegano who “lived at the free-throw line.”
When asked about breaking out the suit coat Sutton cracked a smile and said, “I thought it would be a good game to wear it. It brought us a little bit of luck last year, maybe it can bring us some luck this year.”
ORU will look to continue its momentum when it plays at Missouri State on Wednesday and No. 10 undefeated Creighton on Saturday, Dec. 17. The Golden Eagles will return home next week to close out non-conference play against UALR on Monday, Dec. 19 and Richmond on Friday, Dec. 23.