CHICAGO, Ill. — So far, 2014 has been good to the Olivet
Nazarene University men’s basketball team with the Tigers winning all three games
by an average of 22.3 points. But on Wednesday night, Jan. 15, the team had a much more formidable
opponent in No. 17 Robert Morris University (Ill.). The Eagles have been ranked
in the NAIA Division II Top 25 poll all season and were at home. The Tigers led
for a portion for the first half and threatened late in the second, but fell
Olivet (7-10, 5-3) fell behind early 16-9 through the first
seven and one-half minutes, but managed to get back in the game. The Tigers took
a 24-18 lead after a 15-2 run ignited by three Tyler Crater (Hampshire, Ill.) three-pointers. ONU led by as many
as six points with 4:50 remaining and 35-31 with just over three minutes to
play in the first half. Just when the Eagles (13-5, 4-3) managed to tie the
game at 35 with over two minutes to play, the Tigers’ Aaron Larson (Tolono, Ill.) injured his right knee following an
attempted score. He was sidelined for the remainder of the game. The Eagles
scored the final four points of the half.
In the first half, Olivet shot 13-for-35 from the field (37.1
percent), 5-for-11 from the three-point line (45.5 percent) and 4-for-7 from
the free-throw line (57.1 percent). They were outrebounded by the Eagles 24-18.
The Tigers had five offensive rebounds and committed four turnovers. Robert
Morris shot 48.5 percent from the field, 25 percent from the three-point line
and 100 percent from the free-throw line. The Eagles committed seven first-half
turnovers and had four offensive rebounds.
The second half started in Robert Morris’ favor as they
scored 10 of the first 13 points to take an 11-point lead with 16:20 remaining.
They went on to build their largest lead with 12:23 remaining (54-41); but soon
after, the Tigers cut the deficit to only four. With 8:17 left, the Tigers
trailed 56-52; however, they were unable to get any closer until the final minute of the
game when the score was 72-69, and they were forced to foul to get the ball back.
Robert Morris made both free-throws, sealing the win.
Farchmin (Mahomet, Ill.) led the Tigers with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting,
1-for-3 from the three-point line and 2-for-4 from the free-throw line. He
added one rebound and four assists in 30 minutes.
Senior Tony Banks
(Peoria, Ill.) finished with a team high 12 points on 4-for-10 shooting
from the field, 1-for-2 from the three-point line and 3-for-4 from the
free-throw line. He added three rebounds and one assist in 26 minutes.
Sophomore Aaron Larson
(Tolono, Ill.) finished with nine points on 4-for-9 shooting from the field
and 1-for-3 from the three-point line. He added four rebounds and three assists
in only 17 minutes.
Junior Austin Davis (North
Augusta, S.C.) finished with a nine points on 4-for-13 shooting, two
rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes.
Off the bench, freshman Tyler Crater finished with 10 points, making 3-of-5 three-pointers in 25 minutes. Junior Matt Ryan (San Diego, Calif.) played 16 minutes off the bench, and
added 10 points and three rebounds.
Sean Montgomery led Robert Morris with 21 points on 9-for-21
shooting from the field and 3-for-8 from the three-point line. He added nine
rebounds in 32 minutes. Jarrell Turner finished with 12 points on 4-for-12
shooting and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line, and had nine rebounds and four assists
in 37 minutes. Kashaune McKinney added 12 points, six rebounds and two assists
in 21 minutes off the bench.
Overall, the Tigers shot 26-for-70 from the field (37.1
percent), 7-for-20 from the three-point line (35 percent) and 10-for-14 from
the free-throw line (71.4 percent). They were outrebounded by the Eagles 51-37
(first time all year), and committed only 10 turnovers and totaled 18 assists,
with 11 offensive rebounds and six steals.
Robert Morris shot 29-for-68 from the field (42.6 percent), 5-for-15
from beyond the arc (33.3 percent) and 12-for-14 from the free-throw line (85.7
percent). The Eagles had 15 assists, 16 turnovers, 15 offensive rebounds and six
ONU will be back on the court Saturday, Jan. 18, at McHie
Arena against conference opponent No. 4 St. Xavier University (Ill.) at 3 p.m.