Game 1: ORU 71 x UND 72
Friday Night’s action in the Summit League across the board was electric!! All four games went down to the wire as USD fended off a furious double-digit comeback from Kansas City while SDSU joined their rivals to the south in fending off a late game comeback winning by 6 points over Western, and Sam Griesel hit a clutch contested baseline fader at the buzzer to lead NDSU over Omaha. Even with all those dramatics, ORU and UND also made a case for Game of the Night. After some back-and-forth scoring, Filip Rebraca would tie the game at 71-All with 25 seconds to go with a scoop shot at the rim. Following an ORU Time-Out to set up a last possession play, ORU unsurprisingly would put the game in their star guard, Max Abmas, hands to take one last shot. UND Coach, Paul Sather, countered with sticking the Lanky 6’6” Seybian Sims on the 6’1” Abmas. This would prove wise as the bigger longer Sims would force Abmas to lose control of the ball (it deflected off Sims foot which should have blown the play dead and given a restart) but nonetheless, Sims would grab it and had a free lane for a go ahead score. Abmas would foul Sims, and the Zebras determined it to be a “Clear Path” foul giving Sims 2 shots at the line. After missing the first, Sims would bury the second. With 3 seconds remaining ORU got the ball within Mid-Court Max’s range but as Abmas launched the game winning attempt, the ball would be met by the Big Paws of Filip Rebraca at the Buzzer. A glorious way to win for the Road Team and a crushing defeat for the Home Team.
As discussed on our “Reach The Summit” Podcast Thursday night, we spoke in-depth about the amazing and electrifying shooting abilities of ORU, specifically Obanor and Abmas. As well as if “Living by the Three” would lead their team to “Dying by the Three” as the old saying goes. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, they left their hot shooting in Omaha from last weekend’s series. Against the Mavericks, they averaged 90.5 pts, shooting 51.6% from the field, including 45% from three. On Friday, their 71 points came off 38.5% shooting including 24.1%. Some of the poor shooting had to do with simply missing shots but also battling a far better defensive team in UND vs. Omaha. After a quick 2 from Obanor, off a slick fake ball screen and slip to the basket, UND would settle in on defense contesting shots, particularly on Abmas. For much of the first half, UND was able to keep the pace more to their liking, preventing ORU to find any sort of rhythm that normally leads to transition buckets. Outside of a of an 11-0 run midway through the first off slick moves and buckets by RJ Glasper & DeShang Weaver, it was not a pretty half for either team. ORU’s saving grace would be their rebounding and ability to get to the line where they cashed in. Going back to my point of the half not being pretty, a scary moment midway through the half would occur with Obanor, Sims, & Rebraca all fighting for a rebound that would end in Rebraca catching a hard accidental elbow from his own teammate. This was a moment in the game for ORU to take control as UND’s star player would be in the locker room for 4+ Minutes. However, the Golden Eagles could not capitalize. The Elbow to Rebraca, may have been a blessing in disguise as when he returned with less the 7 minutes in the half, there was a major shift in attitude from the visiting squad. As the half wound down, UND would pick of the defensive pressure causing multiple turnovers by ORU and leading to a 9-0 run of their own capped by a Mitchell Sauker put-back layup to tie the game at 31. The half would end following scores from Obanor and Abmas for ORU and Rebraca for UND to put the game at 37-33. Even with his poor shooting Obanor would end the half with a double-double (10pts & 12rebs)
With hopes of ridding themselves of their shooting woes, the first couple minutes of the half did not start off well for the Eagles as they turned the first possession over which led to a quick transition bucket. Shortly after, a missed Seybian Sims Free Throw, Rebraca would get a clutch O-Board over Obanor and put it back for 2 to keep the energy going for the Hawks. ORU would add some nice buckets by Kareem Thompson, who scored a layup catching the Defense off-guard with a nice back cut and great assist from Francis Lacis. Following that was a layup saving charge taken by Glasper, who would then hit a big three seconds later to push their lead to 44-38. Maybe it was that sequence, lingering frustration from an elbow, or a 4th Foul on Lacis, who was guarding Filip Rebraca well throughout the game, the Big Man from Serbia would turn up the pressure scoring back-to-back buckets in the paint which would start an intense trend of basket trading from both teams. At the 8:53 Rebraca would score again in the paint giving UND their first lead of the half (54-53). Obanor would get him back going to the Charity Stripe thanks to his Serbian Counterpart and banking both freebies. More intense basket trading would occur until the Under-8 Media, including a massive Hammer Dunk by Obanor. The two Bigs would then trade 3’s, putting on a show we all (at the Podcast) were hoping to see. The next couple minutes did not see much action except for a crucial 5th Foul against Lacis, who had been playing his best basketball in a while. Rebraca would make 1 of 2 free throws as a result. After a big put-back by Obanor off a Abmas missed 3pt attempt, Sims would respond with a clutch 3pt of his own. Abmas would add in a pair of free throws and a nice 15-foot jumper before Rebraca’s game tying layup with 25 seconds to go. From there disaster would strike ORU as we all know what happened next that secured a much needed road victory for the Fighting Hawks. Obanor would lead the Golden Eagles with 21 points and a game high 18 rebounds, while Rebraca lead all scores with 24 points and added 9 rebounds.
Final Thoughts & Tidbits
– The Box Score will not show it, but Francis Lancis played an outstanding game rebounding, assisting, and guarding UND’s Star Big Man. UND often took advantage of his absence when sitting out due to foul trouble as that is when Rebraca had his most impressive moments. Another strong effort will be needed today by the 6’7” Forward from Latvia
– RJ Glasper had another strong outing for the Golden Eagles with 11pts, 5rebs, & 3ast. When shots were not falling for ORU’s shooters it was Glasper who provided offensive sparks in both the first and second halves when makes were hard to come by. While often overshadowed by his Backcourt Mate’s Score ability, the Arkansas Native has impressive playmaking and shot creation skills.
– Obanor secured his 500th Career rebound early in the game and become the 28th Golden Eagle to eclipse that Milestone
– DeShang Weaver, Nate Clover III, Kareem Thompson, Lacis, and Obanor combined for 8 blocks on the night.
– Coming off a weekend where he averaged 30pts vs. Omaha off 61% FG including 52.4% from 3pt, Max Abmas could only muster up 5 makes off 18 attempts. UND threw bigger Guards/Wings, Ethan Igbanugo and Seybian Sims at Abmas as well as the quick footed Bentiu Panoam to keep him out of sync. How Abmas responds and how UND guards him today will determine the outcome of Game 2.
– Game 2 is Set to Tip at 7:30pm CST this evening at the Mabee Center