CLAREMORE — On a day toted as Big Monday by the likes of ESPN, a pair of NAIA Top 25 squads paired off inside the Claremore Expo. The No. 6-ranked John Brown Golden Eagles countered every punch the No. 20 Rogers State Hillcat men’s basketball team delivered as JBU won 81-74 Monday night.
The two teams traded jabs in the opening stanza with the Hillcats taking a 40-36 lead at the intermission. JBU answered coming out of the break going on a 13-2 run over a 2:50 stretch of play to hold a 49-42 advantage.
A steal by Donald Williams and layup with 12:32 remaining tied the game 51-51. Williams capped the Hillcat scoring spark with a three pointer from the right wing with 10:31 to go and RSU up 56-51. The Golden Eagles responded with a 9-3 run of its own daggered with a three pointer by Kofi Josephs to give JBU the 60-58 lead.
Over the next two minutes the score was tied three times. JBU broke the tie with a pair of free throws. Then grew upon it with an offensive foul by RSU and a conventional three point play by Josephs led to a 69-64 JBU lead with 3:44 on the clock.
The Sooner Athletic Conference’s current number one seed wouldn’t relinquish the lead and claimed the season regular series with the 81-74 victory.
John Brown (21-4, 10-1) was spot-on from behind the arc knocking down 52 percent and an impressive 49 percent from the field. The Golden Eagles overcame pulling in just nine offensive rebounds and turning the ball over 13 times. Josephs led all scorers as he totaled 26 points for the Golden Eagles while coming away with 11 boards.
RSU fell short despite an impressive offensive performance from senior guard Kendrell Thompson. The Houston, Texas native matched a career high 21 points for the second time this season on 8-of-12 shooting from the field including an 80 percent mark from long distance.
The Hillcats hit just 26.1 percent on three-pointers and made just 26-of-61 from the field. RSU outscored the Golden Eagles 38-22 in the paint with 17 points coming on second chance buckets.
Rogers State (17-7, 5-5) travels to Oklahoma City on Thursday to face Mid-America Christian for an 8 p.m. tip. RSU Radio 91.3FM will broadcast the game with live audio streaming available at www.rsuradio.com and on the Hillcat Network at www.rsuhillcats.com/live.