By James Poling
By James Poling
SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL
STILLWATER, Okla. — Arkansas Pine-Bluff struggled to find any rhythm on offense as it lost to Oral Roberts 80-44 in the Midwest Region consolation game of the Preseason NIT.
The Golden Lions didn’t score until 14:57 left in the first half and scored only 15 points in the first half.
“We came out flat,” coach George Ivory said. “We didn’t play very good tonight.”
UAPB’s 42 points were the fewest the team had scored since the 83-40 loss against Nebraska in the second game of last season. The point total was also the lowest an opponent has scored on Oral Roberts since 2008.
Savalace Townsend led the way again for the Golden Lions with 16 points and five rebounds. The senior point guard played most of the game with a bad ankle that he had injured on Tuesday night against Oklahoma State, but was able to get to the free throw line and make 6 of 7 free throws.
“He’s a great leader,” Ivory said. “He didn’t want to let us know that he was even hurt. He said he wanted to go, and he gave everything he got with a bad ankle.”
The Golden Lions almost doubled its scoring in the second half, but gave up 47 points during the same time frame to Oral Roberts. Michael Roberts had 15 second half points for the Golden Eagles, and his teammate Warren Niles scored 13 of his 19 points during the final 20 minutes.
“It was a situation where we just didn’t communicate well,” Ivory said. “When guys are moving around the floor, we wasn’t talking very well. We’ve got to communicate a lot better.”
UAPB struggled for the second consecutive night from 3-point range. The team shot 3 of 13 from downtown against Oral Roberts, and made only 3 of 15 against Oklahoma State the night before.
Oral Roberts outrebounded UAPB 34-19 despite playing without its usual starting center, Damen Bell-Holter. The Golden Eagles had 15 second-chance points, and turned 20 UAPB turnovers into 19 points.
“We didn’t do a good job rebounding,” Ivory said. “Turnovers hurt us. … we’ve got to block out better.”
With the loss to Oral Roberts, UAPB extended its nonconference losing streak to 28 games.
UAPB will return to the state of Oklahoma next week for two more consolation games in the Preseason NIT at Oral Roberts in Tulsa. The Golden Lions will play Florida International, a team Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas coaches, at 5 p.m Monday. The team will then play SMU the following day at 5 p.m.