Pioneers Prevail in OT, 100-96, Versus ORU

It surely wasn’t easy. Sophomore Jase Townsend nailed three clutch free throws with a second in regulation to force overtime with Oral Roberts. Then, senior leader Ade Murkey fouled-out a minute and a half into overtime but the scrappy Pioneers still prevailed, 100-96, against the visiting Golden Eagles.

The University of Denver (6-22, 2-12 Summit League) played the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles Thursday night at Hamilton Gym. Denver, losers of seven straight games heading into the night, needed a win to keep any hope of making it into the Summit League Tournament. 

Denver jumped out to a 25-14 advantage in the first 10 minutes of the game on 9/15 shooting from the floor (60%). But, DU’s shooting cooled off the next ten minutes and ORU pulled within three points in the final minute of the half. DU had the ball and the shot clock with a 3-point lead with time running out in the first half but Taelyr Gatlin launched a 3-point try with 10 seconds left and missed. The Golden Eagles got the rebound and drove down the court for a last-second buzzer-beater by Sam Kearns to tie the game at 42-42. This was a brutal error for a fragile team heading into the break. DU’s David Nzekwesi’s brother, Emmanuel Nzekwesi, owned the first half with 14 points and 7 rebounds – and finished with 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Denver had a shaky start to the second half with DU’s big, Robert Jones, picking up his third foul at 15:46 with ORU leading by four, 48-44. Denver started to crack and were quickly down by 10 points with 15 minutes remaining. Denver continued to trail over the net ten minutes until the 5-minute mark when a Kevin Obanor layup gave the visitors a 76-66 lead. But three lay-ups, two by Ade Murkey and one by Robert Jones and a tomahawk dunk by Murkey drew Denver within two points, 78-76, at 2:36. Denver finally took the lead when Alperen Kurnaz nailed a 3-point bucket and gave Denver the advantage, 79-78. The teams traded buckets but ORU started to pull away once again. The Golden Eagles built a 3-point lead off a pair of free throws with three seconds left. Denver sprinted down the court and Jase Townsend hoisted up a shot that missed from beyond the arc – but he was fouled. He sunk three pressure-packed free throws and the game went to OT, 90-90. 

Basketball ORU 2 2020

Photo: The Denver bench watches the tight game in overtime.

In OT, Ade Murkey fouled out early but an Alperen Kurnaz lay-up and two free throws by Robert Jones gave DU a 4-point advantage. Townsend took over from there with a layup and a free throw to contribute to a 100-96 advantage. ORU missed a 3-point try with two seconds left but the game was over, 100-96. 

Ade Murkey ended up with 26 points and 6 rebounds. Jase Townsend had his best game as a Pioneer, battling painful plantar fasciitis, with 24 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. Freshman Robert Jones had to battle Emmanuel Nzekwesi all night and ended up with 16 points and 4 rebounds on the night.

After the game, an excited and relieved head coach Rodney Billups said it all, “It was a game we had to have.” 

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “Pioneers Prevail in OT, 100-96, Versus ORU”

  1. In a season where DU can’t often keep up in the second half, it’s good to see them pull out a close one in OT. The league tourney berth that comes with finishing eighth rather than ninth may come down to that last DU game home against Western Illinois…

  2. Dunker is most amazed that this team never sulks and the kids never blame each other. Total team effort last night. Playoffs. we’re talking playoffs.

  3. Really happy to see DU get the W. It was a hard-fought, draining game, but the Pios hung tough and earned the win. In a season filled with primarily disappointment and frustration, I’m glad to see things go the way of the Pios for a change.

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