Stifling Second Half Defense Lifts John Brown
Story by Nicholas Robinson, John Brown Sports Information
CHICKASHA, Okla. -- Down 40-32 at halftime, John Brown (Ark.) came roaring back, outscoring No. 9 Science and Arts (Okla.) 36-18 in the second half, sending the No. 25 Golden Eagles to a 68-58 victory Tuesday night in Chickasha.
Four Golden Eagles finished in double digits, led by senior guard Coleson Rakestaw's 16 points, powered by 4-of-7 shooting from three-point range. Freshman forward D'Shon Taylor netted 13 points and four rebounds while junior forward Kurtis Phillips added 12, courtesy of a perfect 3-of-3 shooting night from beyond the arc. Sophomore forward Max Hopfgartner picked up his 10th game featuring double-digit scoring output, contributing 10 points in the victory.
The Golden Eagles improve its record to 13-3 overall and a perfect 2-0 mark in SAC play. Science and Arts drops to 8-3 overall and 1-2 in conference action.
The Golden Eagles were pushed to No. 25 in the NAIA's third national poll, released earlier today, which featured five Sooner Athletic Conference institutions, more than any other conference. JBU is 2-1 on the season against top-25 opposition with wins over USAO, No. 22 Oklahoma City and a loss to then No. 5 Westmont (Calif.) on Dec. 19. The win marks John Brown's second-straight upset victory over a ranked team.
Science and Arts grabbed an early 4-1 lead after John Brown missed its first two field goals, but a Rakestraw triple evened the score. The Drovers would then make a 7-0 run that would finally come to a halt as Hopfgartner's layup with 14:46 remaining in the half closed the gap to 11-6.
Sporting a five-point lead (20-15), the Drovers would capture 16 of the next 23 points, handing the host squad a game-high 13 point advantage (36-23) with 5:40 left on the clock. A pair of triples and two converted free throws from Phillips helped keep John Brown in the hunt as the visitors faced an eight-point deficit (40-32) heading into the intermission.
Despite shooting 56.3 percent from the floor in the first half, JBU only attempted 16 shots while committing 13 turnover in the first half. The Drovers only shot at a 47.2 percent clip (17-of-36), but attempted 20 more field goals than its opposition in the first frame.
The second half featured a Golden Eagle defense that lived up to its billing as the No. 4 field goal defense in the nation (38.0 percent) and the No. 13 scoring defense per game (63.4 points). John Brown quickly tied the score at 40 after treys from Abel Galliguez and Rakestraw dropped while Kofi Josephs drained two shots from the charity stripe, all within a 3:11 span.
The Drovers battled back, however, going on a 9-0 run of its own that was keyed by a Jahseth Lloyd dunk, handing USAO a nine-point advantage. Finally, the Golden Eagle defense would step up, allowing only nine Drover points over the final 11:42 of the second half.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Josephs and Rakestraw whittled the Science and Arts lead to 50-46 and JBU would finally take the lead for good when Hopfgartner's layup with 4:12 remaining gave the visitors a 56-54 advantage. John Brown finished the game on a 14-4 streak, only allowing a single Drover field goal over the final four minutes of play.
Norris Rumph paced the Drovers with 15 points while teammates Brandon Cutler and Jahseth Lloyd each pulled down seven rebounds.
"I was proud of the guys for hanging in there during the second half," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "After we tied up the game and USAO scored nine unanswered points, I thought we really competed from that point and finished the game strong.
"Now we've got a really short turn around to get ready for a talented St. Gregory's team on Thursday."
Science and Arts outrebounded John Brown 37-32, but John Brown finished the evening shooting at a 52.5 percent (21-of-40) clip from the field, limiting the Drovers to a meager 34.9 percent. The host squad was only able to convert 8-of-18 chances at the free throw line (44.4 percent) while JBU drained 16-of-27 (59.3 percent).
John Brown's bench proved itself once again, outscoring USAO's non-starters 17-4 while the Golden Eagle big men notched a slight 20-18 advantage in points in the paint. Despite committing 19 turnovers, JBU's defense held the Drovers to just 15 points as a result of its miscues.
John Brown will return to the hardwood on Thursday, Jan. 10, when it travels to Shawnee, Okla., to face St. Gregory's in conference play. Tip-off is slated for 8:00 p.m.