Good teams win games they are supposed to win.
Denver (14-9, 6-4) did just that tonight in Tulsa, Oklahoma where the Pioneers got contributions from their bench (20 points), shot a blistering 58.9% (vs. 43.4%) from the field, clobbered ORU on the boards (36-26) and shot 68.6% (11-16) from downtown to put their stamp on the game and sweep ORU in Summit League play.
A late first half surge seemed to fuel the romp.
The first half Oral Roberts pulled away from Denver after Daniel Amigo, scoring a quick 8 points, picked up his second foul and went to the bench at the 12:39 mark. For the next 7 minutes, ORU moved the ball inside the paint, behind 8 points from big man Emmanuel Nzekwesi and 14 points from senior guard Aaron Anderson, to extend the Golden Eagle lead to 10 points, 33-23. The game was slipping away on the Pioneers as ORU moved the ball inside nearly at will and punished Denver’s smaller line-up. But in the final 5 minutes, Denver’s interior defense held strong. Thomas Neff and Jake Pemberton caught fire and the Pioneers went on an 8 point run. A desperation 3-point bomb by Jake Pemberton at the horn found net to finish the half with an 11 point run and Denver trailing by only one point 34-35.
The second half was all about a deep Denver squad grinding down the Golden Eagles. Joe Rosga, held scoreless in the first half, gave Denver its first lead 43-42 at 16:31. Daniel Amigo picked up his 3rd foul at 14:44 but Christian Mackey came into the game and added a spark. A Jake Pemberton tray extended DU’s lead to 5, 50-45. Then, C.J. Bobbitt scored a 3-point basket and followed that bucket with another field goal to extend the lead to six. That set off DU’s run as a host of Denver players scored – a Joe Rosga Floater, an Ade Murkey driving layup, and a 3-point shot beyond the arc by C.J. Bobbitt built a 66-57 lead with 7:55 to go in the game. DU broke the game wide open with back-to-back 3-point shots from Thomas Neff and Joe Rosga to balloon DU’s lead to 76-61 at the 4:23 mark. A Joe Rosga bucket-and-1 added an exclamation point with 3:35 remaining and an 80-65 lead – and the rout was on. Denver kept hitting shots and making stops until the clock ran out – DU 93, ORU 69.
Daniel Amigo who played sick during the game came on strong the second half and finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds and only 3 fouls. Red hot shooting Jake Pemberton chipped in with 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. Joe Rosga had 15 points in the decisive second half and C.J. Bobbitt and Ade Murkey chipped in with 10 points each.
After the game, Rodney Billups cited “energy and effort” as reasons for the important road win. “We did not make any adjustments (at half). We got stops and our offense started clicking because of our defense. (Going forward) we have to play 38-40 minutes to win against good teams.” Despite Joe Rosga’s slow start, Billups appreciated his overall contribution and game management, “Joe had 7 rebounds and 6 assists – he affected the game – not just scoring. His leadership is getting better every game.”
Next up is the showdown against a strong Fort Wayne (16-7, 5-4) team at Magness Arena Saturday at 4:00 pm MT. Both teams have 4 losses and are fighting for the top third of the conference standings and a good seed for the conference tournament.