TULSA, OKLA. -- Junior forward Michael Craion paved the way with a game-high 22 points and added nine rebounds as Oral Roberts rolled by Southern Utah 68-53 at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla., Saturday night.
The Golden Eagles (5-4, 2-0 Summit League) led throughout the contest and by as much as 21 points to pick up the victory.
However, the Thunderbirds (3-6, 0-2 Summit League) made the game interesting with 5:00 left in the game when a free throw by sophomore forward Jake Nielson put SUU within six points. At the mark, the T-Birds were trailing 51-45.
Oral Roberts then used the final five minutes to avoid a disastrous collapse as they matched nearly every shot SUU made.
The Golden Eagles then pulled away in the final minute by hitting free throws from desperation fouls committed by the T-Birds to ice the game.
Oral Roberts went 24-for-31 (77 percent) from the free throw line, while SUU went just 7-for-12 (58 percent) in the game.
The largest difference in the Golden Eagles' 30-14 halftime lead was going 14-for-16 from the charity stripe, while the T-Birds went 0-for-2.
With eight minutes left in the half, SUU trailed 23-4. The 14-point first half was a season-low for a half this season for the T-Birds.
Oral Roberts also outrebounded SUU by 14, 46-32 and 17-7 on offensive boards in the game. Interestingly, the T-Birds outshot the Golden Eagles 38 to 36 percent in the loss accentuating the 17 point disparity from the free throw line.
Including Craion, three players end the game with double-digit figures in scoring for Oral Roberts. Senior forward Kevin Ford and sophomore forward Dominique Morrison contributed with 12 and 10 points respectively.
Ford also led all players with 13 rebounds to complete a double-double effort.
Junior guard Ryan Brimley led SUU with 19 points (7-for-12 from the field, 4-for-7 from 3-point range) in 26 minutes off the bench. All of his points came in the second half as he led the T-Birds back into the game.
Sophomore forward Matt Massey tacked on another 12 points for SUU, while freshman center Matt Hodgson scored six points and recorded a team-high six rebounds. Senior guard Davis Baker, who scored a career-high 34 points Thursday, was held to just eight points (3-for-12 shooting) in a losing effort.
Freshman guard Damon Heuir made his first-career start for the T-Birds, replacing fellow freshman guard Scott Friel, who missed the game with a foot injury.
SUU will finish off its four-game road trip Friday against in-state Weber State in Ogden before heading home to host no.21 UNLV on Dec. 15.
Tip-off Friday is slated for 7 p.m. at the Dee Events Center in Ogden.