KATY, Texas — Oral Roberts University dethroned the defending conference champions and advanced to their first league title game since 2010 with a 79-66 victory over McNeese State University on Friday afternoon in the semifinals of the 2013 Southland Conference Tournament.
With the win, the top-seeded Golden Eagles (17-12) advance to Saturday’s Championship Game, where they will face either Lamar or Sam Houston State.
The victory snaps McNeese’s eight-game SLC Tournament winning streak. The fourth-seeded Cowgirls (18-14) captured the 2011 and 2012 SLC Tournaments and had won their first two games of the 2013 edition.
“We knew that McNeese was the team to beat from the very beginning,” said ORU Head Coach Misti Cussen. “We knew that it would be a real battle if we met them again, and today we were able to win it on the defensive end.”
Five Golden Eagles scored in double-figures, led by seniors Jaci Bigham and Kevi Luper, who scored 17 points each. Christian Key hit several crucial shots down the stretch and scored 13 points, while Savanna Buck collected 11 points and Taylor Cooper had 10.
Buck led the Golden Eagles with nine rebounds, while Bigham grabbed seven boards and dished eight assists.
Caitlyn Baggett scored 20 points to lead McNeese, with twin sister Ashlyn Baggett adding 16 points. Cecilia Okoye led the low block effort for the Cowgirls, with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
ORU shot 48.3% from the floor and held McNeese to a 36.1% clip. The Cowgirls were just 9-for-34 from three-point range, including a 4-for-18 mark in the second half.
The Cowgirls came out hot, connecting from three-point range. A 9-1 run, capped by an Allison Baggett three-pointer, gave the lower seed a 15-8 lead with 14:03 left in the half.
But the Golden Eagles withstood the early challenge and used a half-court trapping zone to get back in the game. ORU surged back to take the lead at the 9:24 mark, as a Buck fast break basket made the score 20-19