Men’s basketball knocks off defending champs, runs streak to three

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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The John Brown University men's basketball team sank 33-of-40 attempts from the free throw line and used four double-digit scorers to pick up a huge 83-78 win over defending national champions and No. 21 Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Saturday (Jan. 28) afternoon inside the Gaulke Activity Center.

Now rolling on a three-game win streak, the Golden Eagles (13-8, 5-5 Sooner Athletic), who was once just one spot away from the league cellar, moves into a three-way tie for fifth place and just one game behind a three-way tie currently for second place.

» Click here for Sooner Athletic Conference standings «

In a game peppered with 17 lead changes and nine ties, JBU rode sophomore Josh Bowling to a team-best 19 points, while earning 11 at the stripe. Senior Zach English submitted a 15-point outing, highlighted by an efficient 6-of-9 shooting night from the floor. Sophomore Brandon Joseph hit seven from the line to finish with 12 points and two assists while sophomore Marquis Waller posted 11 points, six boards and three assists in the win.

In fact, the Golden Eagles hit the boards hard again, out-boarding the Evangels (13-9. 4-6) by a 36-30 margin, marking the third straight contest and sixth of its last seven outings that JBU has won the battle on the glass.

Both teams shot nearly identically on the afternoon, but it was John Brown's shooting at the charity stripe. While JBU connected at an 82.5 percent clip, MACU attempted just 15 from the stripe, hitting only nine (60 percent). The hosts were whistled for 34 personal fouls while the Golden Eagles committed only 20 in the win.

It was JBU's first win inside the Gaulke Activity Center since 75-74 win on Feb. 20, 2014, breaking a two-game losing skid.

"This was a really big win for us today against a tough MACU team," said head coach Jason Beschta. "They can really score and are super-dangerous in transition. We did a really good job most of the game controlling the tempo and keeping them from getting easy buckets in transition. We also did a really good job in the second half, limiting their offensive rebounding and second-chance opportunities.

"We committed to defending tonight and making big stops. We knew it was going to be a dogfight until the end. Some of the toughness plays we made – rebounding and taking charges showed the type of team we can be. Ricky (Roberts) and Jake (Caudle) each earned charging calls on defense. Those types of plays win games in this league."

The Golden Eagle schedule doesn't get easier next week as JBU welcomes Southwestern A.G. (Texas) to Bill George Arena on Thursday (Feb. 2) followed by a matinee matchup with Wayland Baptist (Texas) on Saturday. Both teams are above John Brown in the SAC standings.

Olajuwon Garner scored 21 in the loss for MACU while Devonse Reed added 15. The Evangels entered the game 9-3 in Oklahoma City this season.

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