By: Nicholas Robinson, John Brown (Ark.) Sports Information Director
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- After a difficult loss at Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Thursday night (Feb. 20), the No. 16 Golden Eagles (21-6, 13-5 SAC) trailed only 22 seconds the entire afternoon and rebounded for a 67-57 win over No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist (24-4, 16-2 SAC), tying its single-season all-time win total in the process.
The victory marked John Brown's 21st of the season, matching the all-time mark set in 2003-04. JBU still has two regular season games remaining before heading to Shawnee, Okla., for the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament, set for March 5-8.
"Thursday was very hard on us, and frankly, we've had a tough time finding our spark since we lost Eliana [Fernandez]," admitted head coach Jeff Soderquist. "Tonight was the first time we've played with the type of passion that has made our season so successful. It was an excellent team effort and I think tonight highlighted the character of our ladies and especially our three seniors."
The Golden Eagle defense currently ranks fourth in the nation in points allowed (55.423) and, despite conceding three triples in the final minute of the game, JBU held Baptist to its second-lowest output of the season. Soderquist believes his squad's effort on defense powers such a successful season.
"We've had a lot of ups and downs, but we hang our hat on our ability to play defense. Had we not given up a couple of three-pointers at the end of the game, we hold OBU in the 40s. For the last four or five games, we've worried too much on making the right play. Tonight, we played with enthusiasm and belief while make the right plays necessary to win."
Shipley's 18 points and 10 rebounds marked her sixth double-double of the season as she finished 10-of-12 from the line. Brooke Barker turned in her best offensive performance since Feb. 1 by pouring in 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. Kortni Barenberg and Lauren Rogers both notched double-digit performances by contributing 10 and 12 points, respectively, as Barenberg finished just shy of the double-double by collecting eight rebounds. Kami Garrison paced the Golden Eagle passing game by dishing out a game-high five assists. John Brown tallied 18 assists on 20 field goals.
Barenberg, Shipley and Barker teamed up for three consecutive triples, powering the Golden Eagles to an early eight-point lead, 13-5. The Lady Bison powered back with a 12-3 run, returning the margin to two points, 17-15, at the 8:50 mark. After a timeout, Rogers stemmed the Baptist retaliation with a trey from the right arc before Barker and Morgan Ankrom each collected an offensive rebound and a bucket, pushing the hosts' lead back to seven, 24-17. OBU again pushed back with consecutive baskets, but Shipley's long-range shot quickly answered the former 4-0 rally. Jalissa Council and Zbeyda Aremi partnered up for scores in the paint before the half ended, pitting the teams to a three-point difference, 28-25.
Baptist opened the second stanza by scoring four of the first six points to pull within two, 30-28, but a Barenberg fadeaway in the post, followed by Shipley's second triple of the afternoon, ballooned the lead back to seven, 35-28. The Lady Bison returned the favor by piecing together a 9-3 rally over a 5:23 span, forcing a one-point game, 38-37. In unusual fashion, John Brown began the process of separation at the free throw line when Barenberg, Shipley and Tristan Carrasquillo combined to score 7-of-8 to combat the visitors' run. Enjoying an eight point lead at the 5:25 mark, JBU finally put Oklahoma Baptist away when Rogers' second three-pointer kick-started a 12-4 run over the next 4:08, building up a game-high 19-point advantage. Shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the line during the run factored into the Golden Eagles' 19-of-22 effort from the line (86.4 percent). Three Baptist treys in the final minute narrowed the gap to the final 67-57 margin.
This afternoon's victory afforded John Brown to remain in contention for the third overall seed in the upcoming SAC tournament. With two games remaining this season, Northwood (Texas) and Southwestern A.G. (Texas), the Golden Eagles are one game behind Wayland Baptist (Texas).
JBU's defense held the Lady Bison to a 32.3 percent shooting clip (21-of-65) and an anemic 20.8 percent from long range (5-of-24). The Golden Eagles notched 40.8 percent mark, including a 9-of-18 effort from the field in the second half (50 percent). Beyond Shipley's 10 rebounds and another eight from Barenberg, Morgan Ankrom came off the bench to pull down eight rebounds, sending John Brown to a 43-35 advantage.
Charity Fowler led all scorers with 21 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including four three-pointers. She also added five rebounds and a game-high three steals. Council pulled down seven rebounds in the losing effort while Cameerah Graves, Janelle Beacham and Allie Brandenburg finished with two assists apiece.
The Golden Eagles will welcome Northwood to Bill George Arena on Thursday (Feb. 27) at 6:00 p.m. before closing out the regular season on Saturday (March 1) when Southwestern A.G. makes its way to Siloam Springs for a 1:00 p.m. tilt.