It was an ideal setup.UT Arlington, which had never won a postseason game in school history, was hosting a tournament game for the first time, against a Southland Conference opponent in Wednesdays opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.It was a shot at history.But things didnt go as UTA would have hoped.Oral Roberts came into College Park Center red hot and ended the Mavericks season 84-76, leaving the UTA sideline full of long faces as the schools career postseason record slumped to 0-4.I just hate the way it ended, coach Scott Cross said. Its very sad to lose the way we did, but thats basketball. Thats life.UTA (19-14) paid $35,000 for the right to host the opening-round tournament game, but it hardly proved worth it.The Mavericks were outrebounded (45-36) and outplayed by an Oral Roberts team that moved into the Southland Conference when the Mavericks bolted for the Western Athletic Conference. The Golden Eagles shot 49 percent from the floor to UTA's 42, and dictated the games tempo from the opening tip.Oral Roberts (19-14) went on a 21-3 run early in the first half that sapped any energy the Mavericks may have had left over from their WAC Tournament run that saw them finish nine points away from an NCAA Tournament berth.On Wednesday, there wasnt an ounce of home-court advantage until the Mavericks finally put together a 14-1 run that cut the Golden Eagles lead to 70-63 with three minutes to play. Karol Gruszecki keyed that charge by draining three 3-pointers and scoring 13 of his 21 points in the final eight minutes.Warren Niles was nearly automatic with outside jumpers and 3-pointers, scoring 24 points. He took the life out of UTA early on by draining three of his first four 3-pointers where he had all the time in the world to set up. Combined with Steven Roundtrees 17-point, 11-rebound night, the Golden Eagles had all the firepower they needed to rout the home team.Those guys can flat-out score, Cross said. I think we underestimated how good they are at scoring the basketball.Seniors Kevin Butler and Jordan Reves fouled out right when the Mavericks started a late charge that energized the arena. It capped a frustrating night for the Mavericks, who were called for 32 fouls. The loss ends UTAs season at 19-14, good for the fifth most wins in school history but one win short of their first back-to-back 20-win seasons.UTA moves to the Sun Belt Conference next season.
Oral Roberts 84, UTA 76