Stunner in Shawnee
Story by Nicholas Robinson, John Brown Sports Information
Caption: John Brown's Nate Anderson (34) guards Oklahoma Baptist's David Johnson (3)
SHAWNEE, Okla. - Trailing by five points at the half in the NAIA National Game of the Week, No. 10 John Brown (Ark.) took its first lead of the contest with under a minute left and held on to stun No. 5 Oklahoma Baptist, 75-70, on Thursday night inside Mabee Arena, its first home-court loss in 34 games.
With the victory, John Brown retains sole possession of the Sooner Athletic Conference lead, boasting a 5-0 record while moving to 16-3 overall. The Bison have now dropped two of its last three conference games, falling to 3-2 in league play with an overall mark of 15-4.
The Bison had not dropped a game in Shawnee since the 2010-11 season while the Golden Eagles hadn't secured a victory at the Noble Complex since a 80-71 win on Jan. 24, 2005. JBU handed Oklahoma Baptist just its fourth loss in the last 89 contests hosted by the Bison, dating back to 2006-07.
"While I'm very happy for our players, those impressive numbers are a testament to how strong this Oklahoma Baptist program is historically," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "That record is truly unbelievable, but I'm proud of the hard work our men turned in today."
Freshman forward Kofi Josephs netted a game and career-high 21 points, adding four rebounds to his bottom line. Josephs finished 7-of-11 from the field, including a game-pacing four triples. Senior guard E.J. McWoods used an 8-of-8 game from the line to finish with 14 points while senior guard Coleson Rakestraw chipped in with 12 points and five boards. Senior guard Abel Galliguez dished out an impressive game-high seven assists.
John Brown trailed for over 39 minutes in the contest, starting out poorly as OBU nabbed an early 9-0 lead as the Golden Eagles missed its first two baskets while committing two turnovers during its first four possessions of the game. Coming out of the timeout, JBU quickly jumped back into the game as Josephs landed a three-pointer before Rakestraw's field goal pulled the Golden Eagles back to within four, 9-5.
John Brown then fell behind again by nine, 19-10, as the Golden Eagles missed four buckets en route to the 10-5 Bison run. A McWoods' triple closed the gap to six before Oklahoma Baptist rebounded with a pair of eight-point leads with, 27-19, with 9:04 left in the first frame.
Over the next two minutes, the Golden Eagle defense stepped up and allowed only one basket, sparking a 7-2 run that was keyed by a Rakestraw triple and a pair of free throws from McWoods. Behind 29-26, the Bison began charging the offensive boards over the next 2:17, grabbing three rebounds in the front court which resulted in a resurgent seven-point advantage, 33-26.
A Rakestraw triple would spurn JBU on a quick 5-0 run, pulling to within two points, its closest margin of the first half, 33-31, with 2:44 on the clock. However, OBU closed out the first half with a 9-6, pushing the Golden Eagles back to a five-point deficit at the half, 42-37.
"We really struggled coming out of the gates tonight," Sheehy admitted. "I thought they played excellent defense to open up both halves. We also didn't read and react well. They made us work hard for every basket we could."
Rakestraw's 10 points in the first half led all scorers and the John Brown big men outrebounded OBU 23-22 over the first 20 minutes. The Golden Eagles took 11 less shots than the host squad, converting on 11-of-27 (40.7 percent) while the Bison shot at a 42.1 percent clip, knocking down 16-of-38 opportunities. JBU attempted seven more shots from the charity stripe, converting 11-of-17.
John Brown showed signs of life in the second half, securing five of the first seven points, again whittling the OBU lead back to just a bucket, 44-42, but the Bison pushed back with a 7-2 run as the home lead ballooned back to eight, 51-43. The next 4:03 would be frustrating for the Golden Eagles as the visitors remained eight points behind, 58-50, while committing three turnovers, negating McWoods' trey that brought the deficit back to only four.
Up by eight with 8:18 remaining, 60-52, the Golden Eagles finally made its run. Powered by its defensive pressure over a 2:53 span, allowing the Bison only two field goal attempts that were both missed, JBU collected 10 of the next 13 points. Josephs stepped up and drained two field goals, one from behind the arc, while John Brown received another triple from Kurtis Phillips in addition to fourth bucket from Galliguez.
For the first time in the game, the Golden Eagles realized an opportunity to seize control with only 5:08 left in the game, but a pair of misses from McWoods and Hopfgartner allowed OBU to grab three points in the process, bolstering its late-game lead back to four, 66-62, with just under four minutes remaining.
At the 3:32 mark, Galliguez launched a long three-pointer that found its mark, his only of the game, only to see Oklahoma Baptist convert one free throw at the other end of the court. Then came the turning point of the game.
Down 67-65 with just a minute and a half to play, Galliguez collected a defensive rebound and quickly pushed the ball in transition up the floor, finding himself in an odd-man situation. With speed, Galliguez cut to the hoop, laying up a shot that proved to powerful. With two defenders under the basket, D'Shon Taylor came flying through the lane and, in one motion, collected the rebound in mid-air before slamming down a thunderous dunk that tied the score at 67 with 88 ticks left in regulation.
"That play clearly turned the momentum back to our favor," said Sheehy of Taylor's authoritative put-back. "I was proud of D'Shon's play today, especially the way he got out of foul trouble to make a great contribution to the victory. Needless to say, I was even more impressed with his defensive play tonight."
With under a minute to play, Rakestraw picked up a timely steal before dishing off to Josephs who nailed his fourth and final triple of the game, handing JBU its first lead of the night. During the final 60 seconds, Josephs, McWoods and Galliguez each converted their pair of free throws, sealing the Bison's fate as John Brown completed the 75-70 upset victory.
"What I really wanted to guys to focus on tonight was finishing a game strong," Sheehy admitted, alluding to JBU almost squandering its 10-point lead over Rogers State last Saturday evening. "Coming out with this win is a real step in the right direction."
The Golden Eagle defense did as Sheehy had hoped, forcing Oklahoma Baptist to miss its final six attempts from the field in addition to causing one Bison turnover in its final 10 possessions of the game. OBU only managed to sink four of its last eight attempts from the free throw line.
The Bison were able to keep John Brown at may for most of the evening by pressuring the Golden Eagles into 17 turnovers while only committing nine of its own. The difference was the No. 7 in the nation three-point field goal defense of JBU, only allowing the Bison to convert 2-of-17 from behind the arc, an anemic 11.8 percent.
Each team only used four reserves as the Bison bench outscored John Brown, 37-24. JBU narrowly won the battle on the boards, nabbing four more than its counterparts, 41-37.
The Golden Eagles outscored the hosts 38-28 in the second stanza, shooting 50.0 percent from the field (13-of-26) while converting 17-of-26 attempts at the free throw line. The Bison only managed eight field goals in the second half on 24 chances, missing all six attempts from behind the three-point line.
Senior forward Clinton Houston posted a double-double for Oklahoma Baptist in the loss, pacing the Bison with 17 points while managing a game-high 14 rebounds. Junior guard Kameron Price found double-digits, chipping in 10 points and a team-high four assists.
John Brown has played five ranked opponents and turned in four upsets, claiming a 4-1 mark so far in the 2012-13 season against top-25 programs.
"While this win is wonderful, we have a big game on Saturday," Sheehy cautiously added in reference to John Brown's matchup with Mid-America Christian in 48 hours. "They are on a hot run right now and you can't count out any team in this conference. We need to maintain our focus and carry momentum over from one game to another."
With the Evangels' 81-66 victory over St. Gregory's tonight in Oklahoma City, MACU (8-5) leap-frogs the Bison for second place in the conference, coming in at 3-1 after four games. Mid-America Christian's slate includes wins at then-No. 19 Rogers State and Lubbock Christian.
After losing back-to-back games for the first time in 2012-13 in December to close the first semester, the Golden Eagles have rattled off its second five-game winning streak of the season. John Brown started the season 8-0 before falling to Oklahoma Wesleyan on Dec. 1.
The Evangels will visit Bill George Arena this Saturday, Jan. 19, looking for its second win over a top-25 team on the road. Game time is slated for 5:00 p.m.