TULSA, Okla. -
Oral Roberts University put forth their best defensive effort of the season on Saturday afternoon as they breezed past Northwestern State, 62-51, at the Mabee Center. ORU (5-12, 4-3 Southland Conference) held the Lady Demons to 26.2% shooting.
Bernadett Balla led the Golden Eagles on the offensive end, tallying 19 points and eight rebounds. Balla's 19-point effort was a season-high for the junior, who was 7-for-12 from the field and 5-for-6 from the line.
Christian Key had another fine game, with 15 points, including 3-for-5 three-point shooting. Key passed Cori Williston for 9th place on ORU's all-time three-point shooting list, and she now has 132 for her career.
Keisha Lee was the lone Northwestern State player in double-figures, with 25 points. The Lady Demons (10-9, 3-4 SLC) were just 16-for-61 from the field and 3-for-25 (12.0%) from three-point territory.
ORU, meanwhile, was 22-for-58 (37.9%) from the field and committed just eight turnovers, a season-low.
"We have enough games under our belt to commit to out zone defenses," Head Coach Misti Cussen said about her team's defensive performance. "It's becoming more instinctive instead of robotic for our new players."
One reason for the offensive flow was the continued maturity of freshman point guard Kaylan Mayberry, who recorded six assists and just two turnovers.
After a slow first 10 minutes, ORU surged ahead with a 10-2 run midway through the 1st half. Key drained a pair of three-balls during the spurt, which gave the Golden Eagles a 22-11 lead at the 7:12 mark of the period.
But the Lady Demons came back, launching a 16-4 run of their own. Emily Spector capped the run with an easy layup that gave the visitors a 27-26 lead with 1:32 left in the half.
ORU recovered and took a 30-27 lead into the intermission. Key scored 13 points in the opening period, while Lee had 17 for Northwestern State.
After the road team drew close to start the 2nd half, ORU's reserves helped get the lead back to a comfortable margin. Atoe' Jackson scored a basket and Carolina Lopez hit three free throws as part of a 7-0 rally that gave the home side a 39-31 lead with 14:39 to play.
The ORU lead would hover in double-figures for over eight minutes, until Northwestern State's Beatrice Attura hit a three-pointer with 1:29 remaining that sliced the advantage to 56-49. But the Lady Demons would get no closer, and ORU won their second straight game for the first time this season.
The Golden Eagles were strong at the free throw line again on Saturday. ORU was 14-for-17 (82.4%) from the stripe, with Balla going 5-for-6 and Tysia Manuel hitting all four of her attempts.
Saturday's game was the best of the season for Manuel. The junior from Marietta set season-highs with six points and six rebounds.
ORU is back on the road next week, starting with a Thursday, January 30 matchup at Nicholls State. Tip time in Thibodaux, La., is scheduled for 5:30 pm, with live video coverage available on ESPN3.