Men's college basketball: Oral Roberts holds off Southern Utah
Cedar City • The 20th time was not the charm for Southern Utah on Saturday night.
Dominique Morrison scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, leading Oral Roberts to a 73-71 Summit League victory over the Thunderbirds at the Centrum.
It was the ORU's 20th straight victory over Southern Utah, going back to the 2002-03 season.
It also had to be one of the most competitive, hard-fought games between the two teams during the Golden Eagles' long winning streak.
"We played very hard tonight," said Thunderbird guard Damon Heuir. "We played a good team. If a few balls roll our way if a few calls go our way I think we'd be very happy tonight."
Instead, Southern Utah lost another close game to the best team in the conference.
Oral Roberts improved to 26-5 overall and 17-1 in the Summit League.
Earlier this season, the Golden Eagles rallied for a 61-55 win over the Thunderbirds in Tulsa.
Translation: SUU has lost to a borderline top-25 team twice by a total of eight points.
"They are a very good basketball team," said SUU coach Roger Reid. "â¦ I'm really pleased with the effort we had."
Jackson Stevenett scored 22 points to lead Southern Utah, which nearly rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final four minutes.
It was 69-68 with 48 seconds remaining before the game's biggest play.
After Morrison tracked down a loose ball just in front of the ORU bench, Heuir was called for a touch foul.
Morrison made two free throws to bump the Golden Eagles' lead to three and keep them out of danger.
"He sort of lost the ball, so I tried to put some pressure on him," Heuir said. "I tried to keep my hands out. But I guess the referee didn't see it that way. It probably wasn't very smart on my part."
Southern Utah slipped to 13-16 overall and 8-10 in the league with its third straight loss.
The Thunderbirds enter next week's Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., as a hopeful No. 6 seed. They will play No. 3 Oakland in their first-round game.
"Somebody's got to be Cinderella," Reid said.
Twitter: @sluhm Oral Roberts 73, Southern Utah 71
R Dominique Morrison scores 16 of his 24 points in the second half and Oral Roberts defeats Southern Utah, 73-71.
• SUU falls to 13-16 and 8-10 in the league with its third straight loss.
• SUU will be the No. 6 seed in next week's Summit League tournament and play Oakland in the first round.
• Southern Utah seniors Ray Jones Jr., Matt Massey and Ramell Taylor play the final home game of their careers.