Three-point Barrage Dooms Jacks

Drue Aman

Drue AmanSports Editor

The three-point line could have been thirty feet away. It wouldn’t have mattered.

And the crowd of 2,637 could have yelled even louder during the battle back. That probably wouldn’t have mattered either.

Oral Roberts (6-12, 3-3) went 14-of-17 from beyond the three-point line – a team record for percentage – and shot 65 percent from the field, leaving Frost Arena winners in a 90-82 battle against SDSU (11-5, 3-2) Saturday, Jan. 8.

Even with the prodigious outpouring of threes, of which the Golden Eagles made 11 of their last 12, the Jacks had a chance. After trailing 65-52 with less than 12 minutes left, SDSU cut the lead to two, only to see Golden Eagles guard Warren Niles drain two three-pointers, neither one a wide-open look.

“They made some big shots,” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy. “Niles made two threes with people draped all over him – we knew he could do that and he did it.”

Not as if SDSU didn’t stack up a nearly equatable offensive performance of their own. SDSU sharpshooters Nate Wolters and Clint Sargent shot a combined 9-of-15 from three-point range, and junior Griffan Callahan cashed in four threes of his own. Those three players combined for 68 points. But none of them had an answer for Oral Roberts’ shooting on the night, in fact Callahan was baffled at Niles’ last three-pointer, a 22-footer at the top of the key with a hand in his face as the shot clock expired.

“We felt we were ready for them,” Callahan said. “For him (Niles) jumping up and hitting a three like that – it’s ridiculous.”

The same could be said for Wolters. Playing nearly all 40 minutes (39), the sophomore point guard finished with 32 points on a stalwart 12-of-16 shooting from the field, while tallying five assists.

“(Nate) Wolters, in my opinion, is the best guard in the league,” said Oral Roberts head coach Scott Sutton. “And that’s saying a lot … we couldn’t guard him.”

It didn’t seem like there was much guarding of anyone – regardless of the team – in the second half. The Golden Eagles shot 71 percent from the floor in the second half, including a mind-bending 91 percent from beyond the arc (11-of-12) while SDSU shot 50 percent and notched seven threes. Oral Roberts and the Jacks finished with 48 and 46 points in the second half, respectively. But SDSU shot only 11-of-21 from the free throw line, their worst percentage of the season.

“All we got to do is make some free throws and the second half is completely different,” Nagy said.

Stopping perimeter shooting would benefit, too. Though Oral Roberts’ 14-of-17 effort from three-point range will likely be the worst SDSU gives up all season, SDSU is allowing 43 percent shooting from deep, the worst in the Summit League. The Jacks’ focus on containing the middle and inside game of Oral Roberts helped contain Damen Bell-Holter, a 6-9, 245 pound forward to only seven points, but created an outside shooting night for Oral Roberts they would like to forget

“We left some guys open intentionally, but 14-of-17 from three, it’s ridiculous,” Wolters said. “It’s just one of those things.

#1.1839686:2577064992.png:Collegian-4.png:Nate Wolters scores two of his game-high 32 points against Oral Roberts Saturday. SDSU lost to Oral Roberts, 90-82, in the Lamb Bonanza Jan. 8.:Collegian Photo by Robby Gallagher