Men’s basketball gives No. 20 Texas Wesleyan all it can handle

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FT. WORTH, Texas -- Although the John Brown University men's basketball team forced one tie midway through the contest but never led, the Golden Eagles gave No. 20 Texas Wesleyan all it could handle on its home court as the Rams escaped with an 82-71 victory on Saturday (Jan. 14) afternoon inside the Sid Richardson Center.

Riding the high of its upset win over Southwestern A.G. (Texas) on Thursday (Jan. 12), the Golden Eagles (10-7, 2-4 Sooner Athletic) posted a strong first-half showing, shooting 40.7 percent from the field and forcing nine Wesleyan (15-2, 5-1) turnovers.

Senior Zach English poured in seven points through the first 20 minutes, including a pair of triples, as a 9-6 run to finish the second half, capped off by a triple from sophomore Jake Caudle, closed what was once a seven-point Ram advantage into a one-point margin, 32-31, at the half.

Unfortunately, the Golden Eagles couldn't duplicate the effort against SAGU as Wesleyan used 13 second-half offensive boards to slowly grind out a double-digit lead.

At the 17:02 mark, the Rams rallied on a 14-6 run over the next 5:29 to take a commanding 56-45 lead.

John Brown saw the margin grow to as many as 15 and only cut the deficit into single digits once, when sophomore Brandon Joseph hit a trey at the 2:19 mark of the second half.

The Rams have now won eight straight.

Wesleyan's offensive rebounding handed the hosts a 51-30 rebounding margin and, more importantly, a 21-3 edge in second-chance points. Although both teams committed only 11 turnovers apiece, the Rams out-scored JBU 19-9 off turnovers, and controlled the paint to the tune of 36-24.

English finished with a team-high 18 points and finished the week with 39 points over a two-game span. Caudle netted 13 on three triples and dished out seven assists. Junior Samuel Egedi came off the bench to contribute 11 points and 5-of-6 shooting, helping the Golden Eagle bench outscore the TWU reserves, 29-13.

" I was really proud of the way the guys battled tonight against a tough and talented Texas Wesleyan team," head coach Jason Beschta said. "Wesleyan is playing good basketball this year, but I was pleased with a lot of things. We took care of the ball versus their pressure and we did a great job overall defensively. The defensive rebounding is where we got hurt tonight. We let them get second and third chance shots over and over again. We have to do better.

"Overall, it was a good weekend for us. We are getting better and building on it."

Najeal Young scored a game-high 22 points and grabbed nine boards for Wesleyan while Dion Rogers added 19 points. Trevon Jeffrey notched the double-double with 16 points and 11 boards as did Naiel Smith, who finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

The Golden Eagles complete its current four-game road swing on Thursday (Jan. 19) in Chickasha, Okla., where it will face Science & Arts (Okla.) in an 8 p.m. tip-off.

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