Siloam Springs, Ark. (January 31, 2004) - For the second straight game, the Golden Eagle men failed to score more than 5 points in the first 8 minutes of play. This time, the tide turned and JBU was unable to recover and went on to defeat at the hands of Oklahoma Christian University on Saturday night 76-61. After recovering from a 20-point deficit against Southern Nazarene on Thursday evening, JBU once again found themselves in a hole and were down 28-9 at the 9:43 point of the first half against the Eagles of Oklahoma Christian. The Golden Eagles were never able to come closer than 7 points and that came three times in the second half when a Reyjavick De Gracia putback closed the gap to 55-48, then one minute later as Abdiel Mendieta tossed in three-points to bring the score to 58-51 and the last time at the 8:08 mark as Brandon Brown put in two of his game high 16 points that brought the score to 60-53.
Oklahoma Christian’s 6’9” Jared Merrill, the SAC leading scorer and rebounder, demonstrated his ability as he led all scorers with 32 points, 20 in the opening period, and 13 rebounds. Merrill scored from all over the court as he hit 4 three-pointers, one from 29-30 feet out, several close in jumpers and one lay-up after rebounding the ball on the defensive end and driving the entire length of the court.
Brown’s 16 points was tops for the Golden Eagles and Mendieta also was in double figures with 15 in the losing effort. De Gracia and Ryan Woodson once again led the rebounding effort for the Golden Eagles when they pulled down 7 and 5 boards respectively.
“We have to find a way to play with intensity at the start and not wait until we get so far back,” quoted Coach John Sheehy after the game. “Although our team did not let up, we just dug too deep a hole to get out of in tonight’s game. Oklahoma Christian played with tremendous intensity throughout and we only had spurts where we played up to our capability. This was a key game for us and now makes the Oklahoma City game next Thursday even more important.”
JBU drops to 18-4 overall for the season and 6-3 in the Sooner Athletic Conference. The conference loss places the Golden Eagles in a three-way tie for 2nd with Oklahoma Baptist and Wayland Baptist after the first round of double round robin play. After traveling back to Oklahoma City for the last of the three game road trip, JBU will be back home on Saturday, February 7, to host St. Gregory’s University in a 3:00 pm tilt.