Golden Eagles Upset No. 19 Rogers State, Retain Conference Lead
SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (January 12, 2013) - In an intensely-billed contest between No. 19 Rogers State (Okla.) and the No. 25 Golden Eagles, the final drama-filled moments featured three lead changes and a shot at the buzzer as John Brown landed a narrow 81-80 victory over the Hillcats on Saturday night at Bill George Arena.
"I'm really proud of the hard play and solid effort of the guys tonight," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "We played very well throughout the game and, considering it was our third game of the week, we stepped up and brought the intensity."
After sporting a 10-point lead just five minutes prior, the Golden Eagles found themselves hanging onto a two-point advantage with only a minute and a half remaining in regulation. E.J. McWoods' basket down low pushed the home lead back to four, but Kendrell Thompson's fourth triple of the second half whittled the John Brown lead back to one point with 41 ticks left in the contest.
Coming out of the timeout and with possession of the ball under RSU's basket, a streaking Abel Galliguez was unable to handle the inbound pass, allowing the Hillcats an opportunity to take the lead. Rogers State made no mistake as Ken Holdman's penetrating layup with just over 10 seconds remaining evaporated the once double-digit John Brown lead. Down to its final timeout, head coach Clark Sheehy drew up one final play. Once the Golden Eagles broke through the full-court RSU press, Max Hopfgartner found himself all alone under the basket but, after failing to convert, McWoods tapped in the rebound with two seconds left, handing the host squad a 81-80 lead.
In a quick reversal of fortunes, Rogers State inbounded the ball to its hottest shooter, Thompson, who lobbed the last-second chance towards the basket just beyond the arc as time expired. Despite draining the shot, the head official waived off the basket as John Brown moved to a perfect 4-0 record in conference play.
With the win, JBU increases its record to 15-3 overall and hast posted three consecutive victories over top-25 opponents in No. 22 Oklahoma City, No. 9 Science and Arts and No. 19 Rogers State. The Golden Eagles are now 3-1 against ranked opponents this season.
Four players landed in double digits for John Brown. Sophomore forward Max Hopfgartner finished the game with 15 points and four rebounds, knocking down three of the four three-point opportunities attempted. Senior guard Abel Galliguez chipped in with 14 points and four assists while senior guard E.J. McWoods contributed 13 points. Freshman forward D'Shon Taylor continued his strong play nabbing 13 points in the winning effort.
The first half was a tightly-contested match as it featured six ties and five lead changes. Although the Golden Eagles shot 48.3 percent in the first half (14-of-29), Rogers State capitalized on converting 9-of-12 free throws and draining four triples in the half. Conversely, JBU did not reach the free throw line and only knocked down two three-points in the first stanza.
Defending the narrow one-point lead to open the second half, Rogers State allowed the Golden Eagles to knock down six of its initial eight shots to open the half, sparking JBU on a 16-8 run over the first 4:56, five of which occurred from beyond the arc. Kofi Josephs collected a pair of triples, as did Galliguez in addition to a single conversion from Hopfgartner on the period-opening run.
Battling back-and-forth throughout the middle portions of the second half, John Brown grabbed a commanding 10-point (67-57) lead as Galliguez seized his third trey of the half with just under seven minutes left to play.
The Hillcats, fresh off a victory over No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist, finally made its run as RSU notched 13 of the next 20 points, clawing within four (74-70). After Galliguez was only able to hit one free throw, McWoods pair of charity stripe conversions built a 77-73 lead with 1:45 left on the clock. Both teams would trade field goals before the last-minute drama ensued.
"We've been discussing how to stop teams from having better second halves in practice," admitted Sheehy. "We let them go on a run late in the second half and we need to clean that up. I was still proud of the way we finished the game."
Rogers State had a pair of 20-point performances from its senior guards as Donald Williams drained a game-high 24 points while Kendrell Thompson chipped in with 20 points, finishing 5-of-6 from three-point range. Senior guard Justynn Hammond grabbed a game-high seven rebounds in the losing effort.
Back to shades of its former self, John Brown controlled the boards, outrebounding the visitors, 31-24, while pulling down seven offensive rebounds, leading to 10 second-chance points. The Blue and Gold reserves played a pivotal role again, outscoring RSU's bench by a healthy 36-6 margin.
Both teams shot incredibly well in the second half as Rogers State posted an impressive 73.1 percent shooting in the second half, aided by 6-of-9 shooting from long-range. The Golden Eagles checked in at a 61.3 percent shooting clip, including nine triples in the final frame. Both teams converted 19 buckets in the second half.
With the win, John Brown sits atop the conference standings at a perfect 4-0 while boasting an impressive 15-3 overall record. Rogers State falls to 13-5 and 1-3 in Sooner Athletic Conference play.
The Golden Eagles will finally get some well-needed rest as they prepare for another ranked matchup, this time with No. 4 Oklahoma Baptist (15-3, 3-1 SAC) on Thursday, Jan. 17. The game is scheduled to begin at 8:00 p.m. in Shawnee, Okla.