Big plays down stretch put away St. Gregory’s, keep men’s basketball alive in SAC

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- After a strong start and a double-digit lead for most the contest, the John Brown University men's basketball team stayed in the middle of the Sooner Athletic Conference pack by withstanding a late St. Gregory's (Okla.) charge and pieced together a strong 77-64 win on Saturday (Jan. 21) afternoon inside Bill George Arena.

With the win, the Golden Eagles (11-8, 3-5 Sooner Athletic) slide back into the thick of things, just two games behind Wayland Baptist (Texas) for second place and three games behind league-leading Texas Wesleyan and Southwestern A.G. (Texas). The Cavaliers dropped to 7-8 overall and 3-5 in conference play, two days after picking up a huge win, knocking off league-leading Oklahoma City, 81-78.

The Cavs held a pair of leads early, but JBU responded with a triple from sophomore Brandon Joseph, who scored a career-best 23 points, handing the hosts a 5-4 lead and a margin that would hold for the remainder of the contest.

Hitting 12 triples and a 43.9 percent mark from the floor overall, John Brown worked its way to a 37-26 halftime lead, but the Cavaliers marched back early in the second period to place pressure on the hosts.

Up 49-30 with 14:00 left to play, John Brown had to absorb an inevitable SGU rally. Over the next 4:21, the Cavaliers pieced together a 14-2 run to pull within seven points, 51-44. That's when the Golden Eagles stepped up with timely plays.

It came in the form of triples, two from behind the arc and one of the old-fashioned variety. Joseph hit his fourth trey of the afternoon to push the lead back to 10, 54-44, and on the next possession, sophomore Josh Bowling hit a trifecta from the deep right corner to return the lead to 11.

On its next trip down the court, senior Matthew Ledford fed senior Miguel Martinez in the post, which lended Martinez time to spin and score in the paint while drawing the foul. His obligatory free throw fell, and JBU pushed the lead to 12, answering three consecutive scores from SGU in the process.

A triple from senior Zach English maintained a healthy lead for the Golden Eagles until JBU connected on eight-straight from the charity stripe to close out the contest.

Joseph finished the afternoon 8-of-15 from the floor and a perfect 3-of-3 from the line to add to five assists, a team-high. English poured in 17 points and junior Samuel Egedi added 10 rebounds, helping JBU command a 39-28 advantage on the glass.

St. Greg's was paced by 13 points from Michael Maras and 12 from James Bickers. The well-balanced offense saw 11 poitns from both Jordan Rutherford and Pablo Bianchi while Kildern Gonzalez added 10.

All 11 Golden Eagles that saw action this afternoon scored for John Brown.

JBU hit the hardwood next on Thursday (Jan. 26) when Bacone comes to town for an 8 p.m. tip inside Bill George Arena.

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