Clutch shooting erases massive deficit; Golden Eagles upend SAGU, 71-64

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WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Sporting an 0-6 mark against Southwestern A.G. (Texas) since the Lions joined the Sooner Athletic Conference in 2013, the John Brown University men's basketball team erased a 17-point first-half hole and held the Lions to just 21 second-half points in a 71-64 victory on Thurday (Jan. 12) evening inside the Shaffer Center.

Featuring six ties and six lead changes with under a minute to play, head coach Jason Beschta called a timeout after SAGU knotted the score at 64 apiece.

Deep in the shot clock, sophomore Marquis Waller missed a jumper, but senior Miguel Martinez hunted down one of JBU's 14 offensive rebounds, and setup sophomore Brandon Joseph with a wide-open triple, which fell at the end of the shot clock, providing the Golden Eagles (10-6, 2-3 SAC) the cushion it needed to secure its first win over SAGU since 2004.

Senior Zach English netted a pair at the line after a failed Lion comeback and Waller, missing the front end of a 1-and-1 with a second left, secured the rebound and the putback in the middle of four Lions to ice the contest.

"I'm extremely proud of the effort we showed tonight and the fight after being down 17 in the first half," admitted Beschta. "It was great to see our toughness come out and our commitment to defense. Holding them to just 23 percent in the second half was huge. It was our best half of defensive basketball this season.

"Several guys stepped up tonight. Zach's double-double was big and Marquis off the bench made some big plays and rebounded well. Brandon did a great job starting tonight and ran the offense well and played with a lot of confidence."

Coming up with timely shots, including at the end of the shot clock with 2:58 left in the game to keep the Golden Eagles tied at 59, was senior Zach English, who poured in a game-high 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor and a 7-of-8 mark from the line. He completed his first double-double of the season by securing a game-high 11 rebounds.

Sophomore Brandon Joseph made his first start of the season and made a pair of triples late in the game, leading to an 11-point performance and a perfect 3-of-3 mark from behind the arc. Sophomore Marquis Waller scored 14 points off the bench and added three assists and nine rebounds.

Also off the bench came junior Samuel Egedi, whose steal and subsequent flush put an exclamation point on John Brown's 21-3 run that spanned from the late first half and bled into the second. Egedi finished with six points on 3-of-4 shooting.

The Lions had led by 17, 43-26, with 2:07 remaining in the first half.

"Hopefully this is a game that gives us a lot of confidence going forward watching ourselves beat a very talented team," Beschta added. "This should add to our belief in each other. We now have to take on a very extremely talented Texas Wesleyan. But we are capable of great things and need to keep it going on Saturday."

Keyunta Watkins scored a team-best 16 points for the Lions (13-4, 3-2 SAC), which had its five-game winning streak snapped. Josh Swearingin added 10 off the bench.

The Golden Eagles shot 12-of-14 from the line (85.7 percent) compared to SAGU's 4-of-7 mark (57.1 percent). The visitors also out-rebounded the Lions, 41-39, and converted 12 SAGU turnovers into 19 points. Although JBU turned the ball over 15 times, the hosts only connected on 11 points on subsequent possessions.

The win also marked the first time John Brown has defeated the Lions under head coach Donnie Bostwick. The Golden Eagles entered the game 0-6 all-time against SAGU since the 2013-14 season.

JBU returns to action on Saturday (Jan. 14) when it takes the 46-minute journey from south Dallas to Ft. Worth to face No. 16 Texas Wesleyan at 3 p.m.

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