Hopfgartner's Career Night, Second-Half Surge Rolls USAO, 72-56

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (January 31, 2013) — Sophomore forward Max Hopfgartner recorded his fifth double-double of the season and the Golden Eagles (19-4, 8-1 SAC) turned a two-possession contest late in the game into a 16-point victory as John Brown landed its 19th victory of the season, defeating Science and Arts (Okla.), 72-56, on Thursday night at Bill George Arena.

Hopfgartner finished the game with 24 points and 13 rebounds, both career highs, as he attempted a game-high 18 shots, converting 11 which included two triples. Freshman forward Kofi Josephs continued his incredible shooting from behind the arc, landing four three-pointers en route 14-point evening. Tonight marked the eighth time this season Josephs had chipped in with three or more treys in a game, scoring at least one long-distance basket in all but two games this season.

The Golden Eagles continued its torrid scoring output from three-point range as the host squad finished the night with 10, its 16th game notching at least 10. John Brown entered the contest ranked No. 3 in the nation in both three-point field goals made per game (9.864) and total three-pointers (217).

"I thought we finally started getting some stops tonight," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "We finally started stringing some good defensive stands together. Earlier in the game, we would get a stop and turn it over and repeat the process. Finally, we were able to get turn our defensive pressure into some baskets at the other end which contributed to our run in the second half."

Hopfgartner's presence down low was usually a futile effort for the Drovers to defend. Hopfgartner finished with 10 points in the paint en route to a 32-20 advantage for JBU in points in the paint. In unusual fashion, USAO bested John Brown in bench scoring as the Science and Arts reserves earned a 23-14 advantage in the battle of the reserves.

The first half featured six ties and nine lead changes as neither team could earn more than a five-point advantage in the first 20 minutes. Science and Arts grabbed that half-high lead early, going up early 9-4 and later 12-7 before an 8-2 John Brown run, capped off by a Josephs' triple, gave the Golden Eagles a 15-14 lead, its first of the game, at the 11:18 mark.

The Drovers responded with a long-range make of its own, but Josephs answered again with another trey. USAO would manage to create a four-point lead, but Hopfgartner's basket down low pulled the game even at 25, the match's fourth deadlock, with 6:50 left in the first stanza. Buckets by E.J. McWoods and Nate Anderson gave John Brown a quick four-point lead, but a 7-0 Drover run reversed the Golden Eagle advantage as time waned.

Back-to-back baskets by Abel Galliguez and Coleson Rakestraw returned the lead to JBU with 1:56 left on the clock. Neither team could score until a Brandon Cutler shot at the buzzer knotted the score at 34 as both teams headed into intermission.

Both teams played neck-and-neck basketball as John Brown finished the first half shooting at a 42. 4 percent clip (14-of-33), compared to the Drovers' 12-of-30 shooting effort (40.0 percent). Each squad landed five triples as USAO attempted one more long-distance shot than the host squad in the initial stanza.

A Kurtis Phillips bucket opened the second-half scoring before both teams traded two-pointers just 1:30 into the second frame. Two conversions from Hopfgartner, aided by a Galliguez triple, fueled a 7-0 JBU run that built a 45-38 lead just under five minutes in. Over the next 6:38, the Blue and Gold lead would hover around four points before John Brown finally made its patented second-half run.

The streak was initiated by a Kent High play that saw the freshman guard finish a running layup while avoiding the charge. From there, the Golden Eagles secured the next eight points, bolstering its lead to 15 points, 62-47, as three-pointers from Hopfgartner and Josephs ended any hopes of a late Drover recovery. Hopfgartner capped off his career-setting night with John Brown's final two baskets from the field as the Golden Eagles earned 10 of the final 19 points down the stretch, capturing a 72-56 victory.

JBU played a completely different game in the second half, upping its shooting percentage to 57.7 percent (15-of-26) in the final 20 minutes while limiting Science and Arts to a meager 8-of-28 (28.6 percent). John Brown won the battle of the boards, 43-30, grabbing 10 offensive caroms and turning them into 11 second-chance points.

Brandon Cutler nabbed a team-high 14 points in the Drover loss while teammates Shavon Scott and Norris Rumph finished with five rebounds apiece. Rumph entered the game as the leading three-point shooter in the nation, but the staunch JBU defense held the sharpshooter to a 2-of-9 evening from behind the arc.

Prior to the game, the Golden Eagles honored the veteran head coach of USAO, Brisco McPherson, with a commemorative pen that signified Brisco tenure at the helm of the Drover men's basketball program which features over 300 victories and one national championship (2003).

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