Claremore Daily Progress

February 15, 2013

SAC MEN'S BB: No. 4 JBU battles past Wayland, 67-60

JBU MEDIA RELATIONS
JBU MEDIA RELATIONS

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. — Freshman forward D'Shon Taylor went 6-of-8 from the free throw line, netting a team-high 16 points while freshman forward Nate Anderson stuffed seven Pioneer shots as the No. 4 John Brown Golden Eagles exacted revenge over Wayland Baptist on Thursday night, notching a 67-60 victory at Bill George Arena.

With the win, John Brown (23-4, 12-1 SAC) maintained its grip on the Sooner Athletic Conference top spot, with its lone conference loss coming at the hands of the Pioneers on Jan. 26. The Golden Eagles need just one victory in its last three remaining games to claim its first-ever regular season championship.

Clinching the title won't come easy, however, as the Golden Eagles host Lubbock Christian (Texas) on Saturday as the Chaparrals are fresh off a 61-58 upset victory at Rogers State (Okla.). Next week's slate of games includes a visit to Oklahoma City as JBU will meet No. 23 Mid-America Christian (Okla.) next Thursday before ending the regular season at Bill George Arena on Saturday in an afternoon matchup with No. 10 Oklahoma Baptist.

Taylor finished the game 4-of-11 from the field while knocking down two of three attempts from beyond the arc, in addition to seven rebounds. Freshman guard Kofi Josephs continued his torrid three-point shooting streak, turning in a 4-of-12 effort from behind the arc to chip in with 12 points. Sophomore forward Max Hopfgartner rounded out the double-digit scorers as he contributed 11 points while grabbing six caroms.

Senior guard Abel Galliguez ran an efficient offense, dishing out five assists while forcing a steal. Anderson's career-high seven blocks accompanied his four-point, seven-rebound effort on the night.

The Pioneer (14-12, 5-8 SAC) short bench played a huge factor as the John Brown reserves outscored its opposition 33-0. The Golden Eagles pressed the offensive glass hard, pulling down 16 offensive rebounds while translating the extra opportunities into 11 second-chance points.

It was Kurtis Phillips who sparked the Golden Eagle offense out of the gates as the junior forward pulled down eight rebounds and scored five points over the first 11:14, seven of the rebounds coming on the offensive end. Phillips' traditional three-point play at the 8:46 mark gave John Brown a slim three-point lead, 20-17.

"We were really three-point happy to start tonight's game," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "However, Kurtis' rebounding was absolutely dynamite and because of his effort, we were able to have extra possessions. His play tonight were the intangibles that are crucial in giving us a chance to win."

The Golden Eagles then went on a tear from behind the arc as three separate players nailed deep bombs. Coleson Rakestraw, Kent High and Hopfgartner each landed triples over the next 3:26, boosting the John Brown lead to a game-high nine points, 29-20. Wayland Baptist responded with back-to-back baskets, but the lead soon returned to nine as treys from E.J. McWoods and Taylor fell, handing the nine-point lead back to the hosts, 35-26.

High's lone free throw with 29 seconds left assured John Brown an eight-point lead headed into the intermission.

JBU continued heaving shots from long range to open the second half. Triples by Hopfgartner and Josephs pushed the Pioneer deficit to 10 before a 6-2 WBU spurt closed the gap to six, 42-36.

At the 16:09 mark of the second half, Anderson made his presence felt on both ends of the court as the JBU big man drained a hook shot on the offensive end before collecting his fifth block of the night on the ensuing Wayland Baptist possession.

"Nate’s seven blocks were huge for us tonight," Sheehy added. "He impacts the game at a high level on the defensive end, and anytime he can get us extra points, that's a bonus. I hope he's gaining confidence from his play as of late."

Taylor continued the offensive pressure for John Brown at the 13:35 mark as he single-handedly scored five consecutive points, a three-point alongside a pair of free throws, over a 29-second span to extend the Blue and Gold lead back to nine, 49-40.

The Pioneers continued its pushback, however, whittling the Golden Eagle lead back down to four, 49-45, with just over 11 minutes remaining in the contest.

Over the next 1:15, John Brown would pull away for good when a 9-0 run, fueled by a pair of treys from Josephs, gave the Golden Eagles a game-high 13-point lead, 58-45.

Wayland Baptist would actually pull within three points, 61-58, with 2:50 remaining as a result of a 9-0 run over 3:54. Over that span, JBU missed five shots while committing two turnovers.

Four McWoods free throws would finally ice the game as the Golden Eagle defense only allowed a lone Pioneer field goal over the final 2:50 of the game.

Juhreece Thompson finished with a game-high 25 points for WBU while Tanner Hazelbaker added 11. Eric Milam grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the losing effort. The Pioneers were outrebounded 47-39 on the night.

"I think that’s what we’re trying to develop on a daily basis," said Sheehy of his squad's team-first mentality. "When a guy gets his chance off the bench, you’ve got to be productive. I was proud of them tonight because what we’ve been trying to emphasize is putting 40 minutes together on the defensive end, and I thought we accomplished that tonight. That is where it starts and that is where it will always be for this group."

Although the Golden Eagles tied a second worst season-low of 20 total field goals, 13 came from long-range while John Brown converted 14-of-17 from the free throw line. Wayland Baptist shot slightly better, a modest 33.3 percent from the game, but turned in an anemic performance from the arc, nailing only four baskets on 18 attempts.