Oral Roberts has had trouble this season playing against bigs that can spread the floor and hit from the outside. Both of St. Thomas’ bigs have that capability at times and to start the game the Golden Eagles took their chances by putting Connor Vanover on Brooks Allen. From the jump Allen made them pay for that decision. Allen hit 3 of his first 4 shots from behind the arc, forcing Oral Roberts to adjust their game plan. The Tommies led at the half by 2 and held a lead with 12 minutes left 2nd half. As the second half progressed, Oral Roberts started finding holes in the St. Thomas defense. That’s not to say the St. Thomas defense wasn’t stout, it honestly seemed like about the best defensive effort they could give. They just started having trouble stopping the quickness of Oral Roberts guards Issac McBride and Max Abmas. Oral Roberts used their nation leading 32nd 10-0 run midway throuh the second half to get a double digit lead and never looked back. Freshmen of the Year Andrew Rohde tried to keep St. Thomas in it late but there just wasn’t enough firepower to catch the Golden Eagles.
As we have seen all season, Oral Roberts is so effective from the free throw line in late game situations that giving them a late game lead it is almost impossible to close the gap. In their semi-final matchup Max Abmas and Issac McBride combined to go 12-12 from the free throw line and the Golden Eagles were able to seal the game at the line. The Golden Eagles knew they would be challenged in the tournament and it should be no surprise that on this night the challenge came from the Tommies who played Oral Roberts tight twice this season.
Oral Roberts was led by Abmas with 23pts and 7 rebounds, and Vanover with 17 points and 11 rebounds. St. Thomas was led by Rohde with 23 points, and Allen with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
Oral Roberts has to hope for a better shooting night in the final against North Dakota State. Against the Tommies the Golden Eagles shot 41% from the field and really struggled behind the arc shooting only 24%. Oral Roberts beat North Dakota State twice during the regular season, but if the semi-final is any indication, the Bison are firing on all cylinders right now. We are in for a great championship game.