Men’s basketball lead slips away in Little Rock

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The John Brown University men's basketball team shot 60 percent from the floor in the second half, but 12 second-half turnovers and a seven-point lead evaporated down the stretch as Philander Smith (Ark.) claimed an 84-80 win over the Golden Eagles on Saturday (Nov. 19) inside Mims Gymnasium.

In a war of the second half that featured 15 lead changes and eight ties finally fell the way of the Panthers (4-1) when the hosts pieced together a 9-2 run with just over five minutes to go that turned a 74-72 deficit into an 81-76 PSC lead.

Senior Ricky Roberts converted a pair at the line with two seconds left to pull the Golden Eagles (5-3) within three, but Philander Smith's Braylon Spicer split a pair at the line after Roberts quickly fouled on the inbounds, placing a comeback out of John Brown's reach.

JBU falls to 0-2 on the road so far in 2016.

"That was a very tough and athletic team we played tonight," said head coach Jason Beschta. "We did a really good job in the first half offensively breaking pressure and creating great shots. We guarded well, especially in transition, but in the second half, we didn't make the needed adjustments when they amped up the pressure. We became predictable and easy to guard and we made poor decisions with the ball.

"Despite all these things, we were still in the game down to the wire. We just need to do a better job of being effective on offense late in games. That being said, I'm encouraged by how we did against a good team. Philander Smith would be a top-five team in our conference, so to play the way we did in a tough environment this early in the season on the road, it gives us hope for strong performances in similar games later this year."

The John Brown offense did falter late in the contest, scoring points on just two of its final five possessions.

Senior Zach English poured in a team-best 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting while Roberts finished with 16 points and three assists. Sophomore Josh Bowling came off the bench to provide 10 points in the losing effort.

JBU finished the contest shooting 54.2 percent from the floor (26-of-48), but ended the game with 17 total turnovers. The Golden Eagles won the battle of the boards, 30-22.

The Panthers featured five players in double-figure scoring, led by Darrin Kee's 19 points while Spicer added 15 points and five assists. Christopher Ward etched out 14 points and five assits while Daldric Sergent and Jordan Turner each contributed 10 points.

John Brown returns to Siloam Springs on Monday (Nov. 21) when it welcomes Randall (Okla.) to Bill George Arena at 7 p.m.

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