Shooting at the line delivers first SAC win for men’s basketball

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SHAWNEE, Okla. -- In a game plagued with 44 fouls and 59 free throws attempted, the John Brown University men's basketball team shot 29-of-32 from the stripe and held on late to escape Sumner Field House with an 89-83 win over St. Gregory's (Okla.) on Saturday (Dec. 3) evening.

Making just his second start of the season, sophomore Josh Bowling hit 8-of-9 from the field and scored a game and career-best 24 points, including a perfect 3-of-3 mark from behind the arc.

John Brown's 90.6 percent mark at the line set a season best conversion rate, and the Golden Eagles (8-4, 1-1 Sooner Athletic) needed all 29 points to keep at bay a pesky Cavalier team which shot 46 percent from the floor and poured in 38 points in the paint.

"If we can continue to trust each other and the system, we'll continue improving," said head coach Jason Beschta one game after taking top-ranked Oklahoma City down to the wire. "I'm really impressed with how the guys are taking what we're talking about in practice and translating it to the game. If we keep that up, we'll continue to move in the right direction.

"We knew St. Gregory's could score, so we really put an emphasis on slowing them down and making them hit tough shots. I thought we did that well for most of the game, besides some late three-pointers at the end. We limited two of their three top guys and we got tremendous performances from our post players. Ricky (Roberts) also did a nice job down the stretch, learning when to drive and when not after a difficult start."

Sophomore Marquis Waller exploded for a season-best 18 points on a 9-of-10 mark from the line and three assists while senior Ricky Roberts finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, leading the John Brown effort on the glass.

Despite shooting just 37.8 percent in the first half, the Golden Eagles rebounded with a 59.1 percent mark in the second half, including converting 21-of-23 attempts from the charity stripe. While the Golden Eagles never trailed in the second half, the Cavaliers (4-5, 0-2) did not let the visitor lead to grow past six, 71-65, over the final 8:30 of the contest but once.

Up only four, 71-67, Bowling hit a triple and Roberts hit a shot in the lane on the next possession to rebuild a nine-point advantage. Three SGU triples kept the hosts within four, 80-76.

JBU finished the contest 11-of-12 from the line in the final minute, include four from Waller, two from Bowling and five of six attempts from Roberts.

Tyler Tucker led the Cavs with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting and Jordan Rutherford added 21 points. Mladen Perak contributed 10 points and a game-best nine boards in the loss.

JBU returns to action on Thursday (Dec. 8) when it welcomes Ecclesia (Ark.) to Bill George Arena for an 8 p.m. tip in non-conference action before closing out the semester with a pair of exhibitions over Christmas break.

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