Saturday, March 01, 2003
Tulsa, Okla. ? Reggie Borges scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Oral Roberts defeated Valpo 89-75 in the regular season finale. Roberto Nieves led the Crusaders (18-9, 12-2 Mid-Con) with career-highs of 21 points and 10 rebounds. The loss snapped Valpo's seven-game win streak.
Valpo, which clinched the Mid-Continent Conference regular season championship last Saturday, received 14 points and seven rebounds from Stalin Ortiz and 11 points and three blocked shots from Raitis Grafs. ORU (18-9, 9-5 Mid-Con) placed five players in double-figures as Cameron Tragardh scored 14, Tyrone Tiggs and Jonathan Bluitt tallied 12 each and Luke Spencer-Gardner added 10 points and a game-high seven assists.
Red-hot shooting ignited the Golden Eagles, who drained 60 percent of their shots (29-48), including 47 percent (8-17) from 3-point range. In the first half, behind 14 points from Borges, ORU built a 46-39 halftime lead. Bolstered by Borges making 7-of-10 shots and Josh Atkinson swishing 3-of-4 from 3-point range, the Golden Eagles shot a blistering 59 percent in the first 20 minutes. Ortiz led the Crusaders with nine points in the first half.
After the score was tied at 27-27, ORU went on a 7-0 run to take a 34-27 lead with 6:38 left in the first half. Valpo pulled within four (43-39) with 43 seconds remaining before Atkinson made a 3-pointer with seven seconds left.
The Golden Eagles continued their scorching shooting in the second half, outscoring Valpo 9-2 to take a 14-point lead (55-41) with 16:50 remaining. Despite Nieves' 16 second-half points, ORU increased its advantage to as many as 19 (83-64) with 4:10 remaining. Valpo could get no closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Cold shooting hurt the Crusaders, who made 37 percent of their shots overall (24-65), including 30 percent (6-20) from 3-point territory. The teams were fairly even at the foul line as ORU converted 23-of-31 (74 percent) and Valpo made 21-of-29 (72 percent). ORU won the rebounding battle 38-32.
Top-seed Valpo opens the Mid-Con Tournament on Sun., March 9 in Kansas City's Kemper Arena against 8th-seed Chicago State.