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Distance shooting looms large in 74-57 loss at Oral Roberts

Fighting Hawks drop to 2-2 in Summit League play; host NDSU next weekend
Mabee Center, Tulsa, OK
Mabee Center, Tulsa, OK(kvly)
Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 11:03 PM CST
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TULSA, Okla. (UND Athletics) – The University of North Dakota men’s basketball team dropped a 74-57 decision to Oral Roberts on Saturday night from the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla.

UND (3-10, 2-2 Summit League) trimmed a 21-point deficit down to eight in the second half, but could not overcome Oral Roberts (6-6, 3-1 Summit League) and had to settle for the weekend split.

Caleb Nero enjoyed his best game as a Fighting Hawk in his second game in his hometown, scoring a game-high 17 points on 6-of-14 from the field while adding three assists and a pair of rebounds. The redshirt sophomore played 31 minutes at the point guard position for the second straight game due to the injury to Tyree Ihenacho.

Filip Rebraca made it 21 straight games in double figures with 11 points but hit only five of his 13 attempts from the field. The junior hauled down seven rebounds, swiped a career-high four steals and had three assists. Ethan Igbanugo, starting back-to-back games for the first time in his career, also tallied 11 points and knocked down a triple.

Bentiu Panoam provided a spark off the bench for the second straight game, playing a personal-best 24 minutes and scoring a season-high 11 points for the Anchorage, Alaska, native. He provided 11 of the team’s 13 points off the bench, with Gertautas Urbonavicius adding the other bucket.

UND did a successful job limiting ORU’s top scorers, Kevin Obanor and Max Abmas, to a combined 30 points; however, it was the duo of DeShang Weaver and RJ Glasper who chipped in 15 and 14 points, respectively, to help pace the Golden Eagles’ attack.

After the teams traded runs over the opening minutes that saw both sides jump in front, ORU launched an aerial attack from distance that saw the hosts build a 44-27 halftime lead. The Golden Eagles could barely miss from outside the arc, drilling 10 of their 15 attempts over the opening 20 minutes to carry the advantage over 20 minutes.

The lead grew to as many as 21 at the under-12 timeout of the second half, but UND started to mount a comeback. The Hawks held ORU scoreless for over five minutes while striking for 11 straight points to trim the advantage down to just 10, 57-47, with just over eight minutes to go. It was the local guy who helped spark the rally for UND, as Nero hit a pair of jumpers and fed a slick feed for a breakaway slam by Seybian Sims to force an ORU timeout.

UND kept chipping away over the next few minutes, with Nero again providing the momentum with a three-point play to bring the lead down to just eight, 59-51, with 5:09 on the clock; however, ORU answered with back-to-back triples on ensuing possessions and held the visitors to just six points over the final five minutes to pull away for the 74-57 victory.

North Dakota will return home for a showdown with unbeaten North Dakota State on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

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