Buie goes off, Golden Eagles assured tournament berth

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- The nation's leading scorer Taran Buie posted a game-high 31 points and Science & Arts (Okla.) used a mid-second-half run to hand the John Brown University men's basketball team an 89-75 loss on Saturday (Feb. 18) afternoon inside Bill George Arena, but outside help favored the Golden Eagles despite the setback.

Buie shot 10-of-26 from the floor and added nine boards and four assists while the Drovers (15-12, 10-6 Sooner Athletic) captured its third-straight win, pulling into a four-way tie for second place in the SAC. The Golden Eagles (15-12, 7-9), meanwhile, have now slipped into seventh place and hold a one-game lead over Mid-America Christian (Okla.) and a two-game lead over St. Gregory's (Okla.) with just two games left.

JBU was assured a spot in the SAC tournament quarterfinals on Feb. 28, however, when SGU fell by two points to Oklahoma City on Saturday. The top eight teams advance to the quarterfinals, with the top four teams serving as host. The winners of the four quarterfinal contests will continue on to Oklahoma City for the semifinals and championship. This is the first year the SAC has incorporated this format.

After a three-game winning streak, John Brown has suffered four losses in its last six outings. The schedule favors JBU, however, as MACU and SGU still have to face each other in the final week of the season. While the Golden Eagles are assured a quarterfinal appearance, due to season sweeps of both MACU and SGU, where John Brown travels to is up in the air. As of now, JBU could end up at five different locations as much of the seeding will come down to tiebreakers in all likelihood.

Senior Zach English hit 6-of-12 from the field and finished with 19 points, including an acrobatic triple that fell prior to the halftime buzzer. He also added a game-best five assists and grabbed five rebounds. Sophomore Jake Caudle hit four triples and contributed 16 points while sophomore Marquis Waller posted 12 points and a trio of blocks, a career-high. Senior Matthew Ledford boasted 10 points in a starting role on senior day.

While the Drovers blew out John Brown by 30 in Chickasha, Saturday's bout featured 13 lead changes, including six in the second half, the last of which came after a pair of English conversions at the free throw line that handed the hosts a 60-59 lead with 11:19 remaining.

USAO called a timeout and subsequently rallied on a 14-2 run over the next 4:15 to take a commanding 73-62 lead with just over seven to play. During the stretch, JBU missed all five field goal attempts and came up empty in six of its seven possessions.

Similar to Thursday night's contest at Bacone (Okla.), the Golden Eagle offense lost steam in the second half after shooting well in the first. On Saturday, JBU shot 51.9 percent through 20 minutes but then ended the game 9-of-31 from the floor (29 percent) over the final period.

The Drover big men controlled the paint to the tune of 48-28, assisted by 19 points from Julius Foster and another 12 from Brendan Chapman. Imani Edwards added 11 points while Greg Smith grabbed 10 of USAO's 35 rebounds.

The Golden Eagles will close out Bill George Arena for the final time this season on Thursday when it plays hosting duties to the SAC's top team, Texas Wesleyan. The contest is slated for an 8 p.m. tip.

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