Cedar City • The 20th time was not the charm for Southern Utah on Saturday night.
Dominique Morrison scored 16 of his 24 points in the second half, leading Oral Roberts to a 73-71 Summit League victory over the Thunderbirds at the Centrum.
It was the ORU's 20th straight victory over Southern Utah, going back to the 2002-03 season.
It also had to be one of the most competitive, hard-fought games between the two teams during the Golden Eagles' long winning streak.
"We played very hard tonight," said Thunderbird guard Damon Heuir. "We played a good team. If a few balls roll our way if a few calls go our way I think we'd be very happy tonight."
Instead, Southern Utah lost another close game to the best team in the conference.
Oral Roberts improved to 26-5 overall and 17-1 in the Summit League.
Earlier this season, the Golden Eagles rallied for a 61-55 win over the Thunderbirds in Tulsa.
Translation: SUU has lost to a borderline top-25 team twice by a total of eight points.
"They are a very good basketball team," said SUU coach Roger Reid. "… I'm really pleased with the effort we had."
Jackson Stevenett scored 22 points to lead Southern Utah, which nearly rallied from an eight-point deficit in the final four minutes.
It was 69-68 with 48 seconds remaining before the game's biggest play.
After Morrison tracked down a loose ball just in front of the ORU bench, Heuir was called for a touch foul.
Morrison made two free throws to bump the Golden Eagles' lead to three and keep them out of danger.
"He sort of lost the ball, so I tried to put some pressure on him," Heuir said. "I tried to keep my hands out. But I guess the referee didn't see it that way. It probably wasn't very smart on my part."
Southern Utah slipped to 13-16 overall and 8-10 in the league with its third straight loss.
The Thunderbirds enter next week's Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., as a hopeful No. 6 seed. They will play No. 3 Oakland in their first-round game.
"Somebody's got to be Cinderella," Reid said.
Twitter: @sluhm Oral Roberts 73, Southern Utah 71
R Dominique Morrison scores 16 of his 24 points in the second half and Oral Roberts defeats Southern Utah, 73-71.
• SUU falls to 13-16 and 8-10 in the league with its third straight loss.
• SUU will be the No. 6 seed in next week's Summit League tournament and play Oakland in the first round.
• Southern Utah seniors Ray Jones Jr., Matt Massey and Ramell Taylor play the final home game of their careers.