Golden Eagles get past UMKC for crown

Updated: March 8, 2005, 9:21 PM ET
Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. -- As Oral Roberts made a difficult run through the Mid-Continent Conference tournament, coach Jerry Finkbeiner found teams scheming to stop Elisha Turek.

And though they slowed her production, they couldn't stop her effort.

Turek scored 14 points and pulled down 14 rebounds as the Golden Eagles beat UMKC 48-42 on Tuesday to win the Mid-Con title and earn its first NCAA Tournament berth in four years.

"I told her out in the hallway, 'Elisha, I don't want to see you in the office for two days,'" Finkbeiner said. "Come into my office, we'll talk hoops. But she needs time off.

"That's the kind of player she is -- a very average athlete, but has extreme confidence with the ball," Finkbeiner said.

Turek, a 6-foot-1 forward, was 6-for-16 from the field and had five offensive rebounds.

"Turek is a great player," Kangaroos coach Bo Overton said. "If we go big, she goes by us. If we go little she goes over us. The biggest thing we talked about was not so much her catching and shooting it. It's the offensive rebounds and putbacks."

Sarah Davidson's long 3-pointer from the right wing started a string of seven straight points that extended Oral Roberts' lead to 38-24 early in the second half. Turek added jumpers from the right baseline and just behind the free-throw line to push the Golden Eagles (22-8) further ahead.

But after Davidson's steal and fast-break layup made it 43-32 with 11:45 remaining, Oral Roberts went cold and didn't hit another field goal for more than 11½ minutes.

Jowan Ortega hit a driving layup to start a 7-1 run for the Kangaroos (10-20), who were seeking their first ever NCAA Tournament bid. Alysa Klein added a free throw and a basket from the left block, and Liz Obrecht cut the lead to 44-39 with a pair of free throws.

But Klein missed a point-blank layup under the basket and Ortega couldn't convert a floater in the lane in the final two minutes that could have made it closer. Overton said Klein's miss was the hardest to take.

"If that goes down, then we've got a game," Overton said. "But I guess the girl made a good play and it didn't."

Claudia Louis made two free throws and a layup to put it away. Ortega hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for the Kangaroos, who lost to the Golden Eagles three times during the regular season.

The Golden Eagles shot only 33 percent, and UMKC shot 31 percent.

"Believe me, both these teams are better shooting teams than you saw," Finkbeiner said. "You get worn down over a three- or four-day tournament."

After Davidson's layup, the Golden Eagles missed their next nine shots before Finkbeiner called timeout.

"Basically I just told them, 'Stop looking at the scoreboard,'" Finkbeiner said. "It just seemed like we were playing not to lose instead of playing to win. It didn't help the ball go into the basket."

They missed three more shots before Louis' free throws with 39 seconds remaining iced the game.

"We kept our composure and were able to pull it out," Turek said. "Defense wins championships and not the offense. We knew the offense would come around if we played defense, and we pulled through."

Klein and Obrecht finished with 11 points each and Katie Houlehan scored 10 points for Missouri-Kansas City, the tournament's seventh seed. Obrecht also had 11 rebounds.

Oral Roberts, the fourth seed, scored the first six points of the game and continued to pull away with a 9-2 run that Turek capped with two free throws to make it 25-12.

Obrecht's basket underneath started a 9-1 rally that got UMKC back to within 26-21 as the Golden Eagles went more than eight minutes without a field goal.

Davidson hit a 3-pointer from the right corner just before the halftime buzzer to give Oral Roberts a 29-21 lead at the break.

The Golden Eagles also won the Mid-Continent tournament in 1999 and 2001 to earn automatic NCAA Tournament bids.


Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press