Golden Eagles hold off late charge, sweep defending National Champs

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- The John Brown University men's basketball team out-muscled the defending National Champions for the second time this season, and converted 16-of-22 from the line to fend off Mid-America Christian (Okla.), 74-70, on Saturday (Feb. 11) afternoon inside Bill George Arena.

The Golden Eagles (15-10, 7-7 Sooner Athletic) used a 33-28 rebounding edge and forced 14 MACU turnovers to keep the nation's third-highest scoring team (90.8 points per game) and limited the Evangels (14-12, 5-9) to just two offensive rebounds and a 44.2 percent shooting mark in the narrow decision.

The SAC Tournament picture continues to yield little clarity in predicting seeding for the tournament. Despite a 7-7 league record, the Golden Eagles trail a trio of teams tied for first by just two games with four regular-season contests left. JBU also trails another trio of teams by just a game, all of whom are tied for fourth place.

With six tie scores scattered throughout the contest, seven lead changes emerged, none more important than John Brown breaking a 58-all deadlock when junior Sam Egedi dished a nifty pass to sophomore Josh Bowling in the post for a layup and one, handing the hosts a one-possession lead with just 7:48 left in the contest.

Bowling's and-one was JBU's second-straight and kicked off a key 12-2 run after MACU had taken a three-point lead, 58-55. Sophomore Brandon Joseph converted his three-point play that jump-started the JBU run that put the Golden Eagles in front by seven. 67-60, with 5:12 remaining.

Bowling helped fuel the Golden Eagle offense to the tune of eight points in the second half, while sophomore Jake Caudle added all seven of his in the final frame.

However, the offense would sputter, and the Evangels responded with an 8-2 run to pull within one point, 71-70, with 23 seconds left. Caudle hit both attempts at the line and after Bowling split his chance, JBU challenged two MACU three-point attempts in the final 10 seconds, neither of which would fall, to hang onto the victory.

Joseph hit 6-of-13 from the floor to score 15 points and added five rebounds and four assists in the complete game effort. Bowling came off the bench to hit 12 points and grab a team-best seven caroms while sophomore Marquis Waller added 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.

The visitors were paced by a game-high 19 points from Olajuwon Garner, who also secured six rebounds in the loss, while Ex'Zavia Seaton and Devonse Reed each posted 10 points. The Evangels have now lost five of its last six overall.

"I love the way we fought tonight," head coach Jason Beschta said. "It shows in the way we defended and it shows in the way we held them to two offensive boards. We also only had 12 turnovers, and they're a very good pressure team.

"We did a great job knocking down shots at the foul line, too. Our league is just super-talented. One play or one call goes one way, and one game can change a lot for any team. This speaks to where this team is headed and the direction they're working towards."

The gauntlet won't get any easier for JBU as the Golden Eagles travel to Bacone (Okla.) on Thursday (Feb. 16) for an 8 p.m. matchup. The Warriors fell by just five to Oklahoma City tonight in Muskogee and have also recently knocked off Southwestern A.G. (Texas), who is tied for first in the league standings.

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