No. 5 Oral Roberts, No. 3 Western Illinois Secure Tourney Wins

(Photo Credit: Inertia)
(Photo Credit: Inertia)

Game 1

The Basics
No. 5 Oral Roberts 76, No. 4 Denver 71
Records: Denver (16-14), Oral Roberts (17-12)
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The first upset in the 2018 Summit League Championships came on Day 2 of the tournament, albeit a slight upset because the teams split the regular season series, as No. 5 seed Oral Roberts hung on for a 76-71 win over No 4 seed Denver on Sunday at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

After exchanging early baskets, Oral Roberts broke a 4-4 tie with a 7-0 spurt to take an 11-4 lead six minutes into the game, only to see the Pioneers come back and tie the game at 14-all on a Briana Johnson 3-pointer that beat the first quarter buzzer.

Down 18-17 early in the second, the Golden Eagles used another 7-0 run to take a 24-18 lead. Even though the Pioneers came right back to force the fifth tie of the game at 24-24 with 3:02 left in the half, ORU ended the frame with nine straight points to take a 33-24 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The ORU run extended into the second half, as Jordan Gilbert drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing in the opening possession of the half to extend the run to 12-0, which gave the Golden Eagles a 36-24 advantage.

Denver responded with six straight points to cut the lead in half midway through the third quarter, but the Golden Eagles fired right back with seven straight for their largest lead at 45-32 with 3:42 on the third quarter clock.

The Pioneers continued to chip away at the margin, cutting it to as few as three points at 65-62 with 2:59 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Golden Eagles scored the next four points and hung on down the stretch to secure the win. Oral Roberts will advance to play top-seeded South Dakota on Monday at noon in the semifinals.

Faith Ihim led a trio of Golden Eagles in double figures with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and five assists to complete a well-rounded game. Sarah Garvie finished with 17 points and six rebounds, while Maya Mayberry pitched in with 11 points.

Samantha Romanowski set the pace for the Pioneers with 18 points, with Lauren Loven adding 15 points off the bench in the loss.

Turning Point

  • Tied at 24 with 3:02 left in the first half, Oral Roberts closed the half on a 9-0 run, and then extended the run to 12-0 on the first possession of the second half.

Inside The Box Score

  • All four lead changes and all four tied scores came in the first half
  • The Denver bench outscored the Oral Roberts bench, 31-17
  • ORU finished with a 28-18 edge in points in the paint
  • The Golden Eagles led for 33:49, while the Pioneers led for 33 seconds

News & Notes

  • Sunday's match-up marked the first time in league tournament history the Golden Eagles faced the Pioneers
  • Oral Roberts improves to 12-7 all-time in the tournament quarterfinals, and to 24-13 all-time in the tournament
  • Denver falls to 1-4 all-time in the tournament quarterfinals, and to 2-5 all-time in the tournament
  • ORU moves on to the semifinals, where it owns a 7-4 all-time mark, with its last win coming in 2010
  • After advancing to the tournament finals in its first year, Denver exited in the quarterfinals in each of the last four years

Game 2

The Basics
No. 3 Western Illinois 97, No. 6 Omaha 57
Records: Western Illinois (22-8), Omaha (12-16)
Location: Denny Sanford PREMIER Center - Sioux Falls, S.D.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A tight game early, defending tournament champion and No. 3 seed Western Illinois blew the game open in the second quarter and never looked back in a 97-57 win over No. 6 seed Omaha on Sunday at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

The teams played close early, Western Illinois making 11 of its 17 first-quarter shots, and Omaha going 5-of-6 from 3-point range, all of which resulted in a 24-20 Fighting Leathernecks lead at the end of the first quarter.

The close play ended with the quarter though, as Western Illinois scored the first 12 points of the second quarter and then parlayed that into a 25-1 run that turned the 24-20 lead into a 49-21 advantage with 2:29 left in the opening half.

The Mavericks snapped the run with under two minutes to go in the first half, but got outscored 32-6 in the quarter and trailed 56-26 at halftime.

Western Illinois scored the first five points out of the break to build its lead to 63-26, a lead that reached 38 points by the end of the quarter, locking down a second straight trip to the semifinals. The Leathernecks meet No. 2 seed South Dakota State on Monday at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Emily Clemens led all players in the game with 36 points, and set the tournament record for field goal percentage in the process at 92.3 percent on 12-of-13 shooting. She also tied a career-high with eight steals, which is tied for second-most in a league tournament game all-time. Taylor Higginbotham finished with 23 points and Sam Pryor with 12 points in the win.

Amber Vidal led the Mavericks in the loss with 23 points, with Jess Walter adding 11 points.

Turning Point

  • Western Illinois opened the second quarter on a 12-0 run to turn a four point lead into 36-20 advantage, and then pushed the run to 25-1 to essentially put the game out of reach.

Inside The Box Score

  • Clemens (24) and Higginbotham (16) combined for 40 of the Leathernecks 56 first half points
  • The game saw two lead changes and one tie, all within the first three minutes
  • Western Illinois finished with a 56-24 edge in points in the paint, and a 39-6 advantage in points off turnovers

News & Notes

  • Clemens' set the tournament record for field goal percentage at 92.3 percent (12-of-13), while her 36 points is the third-most points in tournament history and her eight steals ties for second most in a tournament game
  • After falling in the quarterfinals for four consecutive seasons, Western Illinois advances to the semifinals for the second-straight season
  • Western Illinois improves to 10-14 all-time in the tournament quarterfinals, and to 15-22 all-time in the tournament
  • Omaha failed to advance to the semifinals for the first time since joining the league, falling to 2-1 all-time in the tournament quarterfinals, and to 2-5 all-time in the tournament

Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League features women's basketball teams from eight member institutions: Denver, Fort Wayne, North Dakota State, Omaha, Oral Roberts, South Dakota, South Dakota State and Western Illinois with North Dakota becoming an official member for the 2018-19 season. In 2016-17, The Summit League raised its RPI for the third consecutive year, finishing with an all-time best No. 11 ranking. The Summit League has sent at least three teams to the postseason nine straight years with three postseason tournament semifinal appearances the last four years, while recording the nation's best Division I winning percentage improvement since 2009-10. Called "March's Best-Kept Secret" by USA Today, The Summit League Basketball Championships annually ranks as one of the most attended Division I conference tournaments. This season's event returns to the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., March 3-6, 2018. For more information about the league, "See The Summit" by visiting and following Summit League Basketball on Twitter @summithoops.


2018-19 Basketball Media Day
October 19, 2018 2018-19 Basketball Media Day