Kansas City, Mo. (March 15, 2012) - Despite falling behind by 22 points, the JBU men’s basketball team was able to battle back and force overtime before eventually falling 85-83 to Montana Western during opening round action of the 2012 Buffalo Funds NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship.
The men close out the year at 25-9 overall, which includes a new record for wins in the regular season at 23-7 before post season play.
For the game, redshirt junior Abel Galliguez led the team with 23 points before fouling out in the second period. Senior Andy Garcia also had 23 points to go with 12 boards. Junior Coleson Rakestraw tallied 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting for the day. Junior EJ McWoods added 13 points and five assists. And senior Adrian Miller closes out his career with a 13 rebound, seven assist, and five point effort.
For UMW (25-9), senior Brandon Brown led all scorers with 26 points, six rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. Tyler Hurley added 16. And Kyle Erickson and Bridger Chambers posted 15 and 10 points respectively.
JBU jumped out to an early 12-7 lead behind Galliguez’s sharp shooting to open the game. But UMW fought back and managed to lock JBU down and pull away to a 46-31 lead at halftime.
“We didn’t play well in the first half,” said JBU head coach Clark Sheehy. “We made unusual plays that were out of character. There were 12 to 15 points that the other team got that we wouldn’t usually give up.”
In the second half, JBU fell behind by 22 after Tyler Miller drilled a three making it 56-34 with 15:24 left.
JBU then began to press and converted turnovers it easy buckets. And with 10:54 left, JBU found themselves down 60-48.
Over the next few possession, both teams traded buckets, but a steal and lay in by McWoods sparked a run that gave JBU more momentum.
Down by 11 with 5:20 left, McWoods scored again followed by a steal and bucket from Galliguez. After a UMW free-throw, Garcia hit a lay in off the feed from Miller making it a 72-66 game with 4:33 remaining.
At the 3:15 mark, Brown ended the Bulldogs’ drought after sinking a baseline floater to go up 74-66.
JBU hung tough, however, and after a pair of free-throw makes from Garcia, Rakestraw buried a trey followed by another pair of Garcia makes from the charity stripe.
After another Bulldog turnover Rakestraw had a chance to give JBU their first lead since early in the first half and delivered after burying a long two that rattled home making it 75-74 with 1:18 to go.
Both teams traded possessions in the closing minute, but a foul on McWoods sent Brown to the line where he converted the first but missed the second.
With 12 seconds to go and tied at 75, JBU had a chance for the win, but Rakestraw’s 3-point attempt came up short as time expired.
In overtime, neither team wanted to give up an inch, but eventually, UMW managed to pull ahead by three, 83-80, after Hurley scored a hook shot in the paint.
Rakestraw, though, quickly answered on the other end with his fourth trey of the game to tie things up at 83 with 52 seconds remaining.
On the next Bulldog possession, Erickson banged his way to two on the inside to lead 85-83 with 26 seconds left.
JBU held out for the last possession and had several looks at it, but UMW managed to keep the Golden Eagles at bay before holding on for the win.
“Coming into the second half, I felt like the guys really pulled it together,” added Sheehy. “It would have been easy to fall apart and give up but our guys stuck with it. That shows the type of character we have on this team. It was a tough loss and an emotional game, but I told our guys good job and I was proud of their effort.”
For the game, JBU shot 41.3 percent (26-of-63) from the field, while giving up 51.9 percent (28-of-54) to UMW. JBU won the rebounding battle 36-32 and also forced 18 turnovers while committing only 16. Both teams made 19 free-throws.
The Golden Eagles say good bye to seniors Thomas Galliguez, Adrian Miller, and Andy Garcia.