Same old story for Jacks on the road

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

A 10-0 run in the final five minutes proved to be the difference, as the SDSU men’s basketball team lost a late-game lead to Oral Roberts 63-58 on Feb. 26 in Tulsa, Okla.

After trailing by as many as 12 points in the first half, the Jacks (12-18, 7-10) held their largest lead of the game, five points, with under five minutes left. SDSU went 0-of-5 from the field in the final five with four turnovers and was out-rebounded eight to four.

“Basically, what we did is do the same thing that we do every road game when we have a lead in the last five minutes,” said head coach Scott Nagy. “We didn’t get one big rebound that we needed to get. It’s tough to talk to our players after the game because they really poured their hearts into it.”

Going into the game, the match-up did not look very favorable for the Jackrabbits. With SDSU 0-16 all-time in Summit League road games and Oral Roberts on a 34-game home winning streak against conference opponents, it did not appear that the Jacks would improve on their 0-3 all-time series record, with the average margin of defeat being 17 points. However, a big defensive effort kept the Jacks in the game. SDSU held the Golden Eagles to 63 points, seven points less than ORU’s season average and seven points less than what the Jacks defense gives up per game.

“For the first time in a long time, we were really good defensively, but we got no big rebounds,” Nagy said. “If you go back and watch the last five minutes, all we did was turn it over, take tough shots and didn’t get any rebounds. They just outplayed us the last five minutes, and we didn’t deserve to win the game.”

Nagy said that probably the biggest deciding factor in Oral Roberts (17-13, 15-3) winning the game was the 44-29 rebounding advantage that they had, including a 20-8 advantage on the offensive end. The Golden Eagles lead the Summit League in rebounding, with 36.2 per game.

“Plus 15 and we lost by five. I think that speaks volumes. I don’t care how big they are, I don’t care who we are missing, we are not going to use that as an excuse. They just outplayed us when the plays needed to be made,” Nagy said.

“That’s the unfortunate thing because our kids gave great effort and I am super pleased with their defense. If we can just defend like that all the time,” he said. “The end part of defending is rebounding the ball. If we go back on film and look at how many times (Oral Roberts) scored on second, third and fourth shots, we are just going to be sick.”

For Oral Roberts, Marcus Lewis led the way with 18 points, 15 coming in the second half, and a game-high 13 rebounds, including many tip-ins and offensive rebounds late in the second half.

Anthony Cordova was the game’s leading scorer with 20 points, one away from tying a career high, with 11 rebounds. Junior Kai Williams added 10 points, while guard Michael Palarca also had 10 points to tie a career high.

“(Cordova) played well offensively, and honestly, he played pretty good defensively,” said Nagy. “We need him to come up with some more rebounds, but we need all our guys to do that. It is just unbelievable the number of loose balls that we didn’t get. We should have won this game by 10 points. Do we walk out of here satisfied that we played these guys to five? That has to end. It just has to end. I don’t care who these guys are; this has got to end.”