Men’s basketball takes top-seeded Rams to brink

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SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. -- No. 11 Texas Wesleyan survived a late barrage from the John Brown University men's basketball team and collected its second-consecutive SAC regular season title with a narrow 78-76 win inside Bill George Arena on Thursday (Feb. 23) evening.

After senior Zach English tied the contest at 71 with his second triple of the evening, but JBU hit just 2-of-7 over the final 2:42 of the game and Wesleyan (21-6, 11-5 Sooner Athletic), the beneficiaries of JBU having run out of timeouts, withstood a split at the line with 16 seconds left as an English triple attempt at the buzzer landed long, handing the Rams at least a share of the regular season title.

The Golden Eagles overcame a 41.7 percent shooting performance (25-of-60) and 12 turnovers by hitting 13-of-31 attempts from behind the arc and grabbing 12 offensive boards.

Ryan Harris came up with a game-high 23 points off the Texas Wesleyan bench, while four other Rams finished in double-figure scoring, including 18 from Trevor Jeffrey.

TWU scored nine unanswered points to take a 36-25 lead in the first half, but JBU chipped away at that margin and trailed by only four, 40-36, at halftime.

Although the Rams picked up seven fouls in the first 5:11 of the second half, Wesleyan held John Brown at bay until things got interesting late in the game.

"A close one like this obviously hurts," admitted head coach Jason Beschta. "I'm not one for moral victories, but this is the most proud I've been all year of a collective effort in one game, and coming against the most physical team in the conference. We never gave up, we never stopped fighting.

"I'm excited about what we have a chance to do in the last regular season game and at the tournament. If this is any indication, we're playing our best basketball at the most important time of the season. Every team is going to see us at our best."

Sophomore Brandon Joseph drilled six triples and paced JBU with 21 points and four assists. Sophomore Jake Caudle added 15 points while English and sophomore Marquis Waller each contributed 12. Junior Sam Egedi pulled down a game-high 11 boards as JBU hit the offensive glass to grab 12 second-chance opportunities.

Wesleyan earned the edge in the pain, out-scoring the hosts 48-28 in the lane, offsetting John Brown's edge behind the arc.

Despite losing its last four, the Golden Eagles have a chance on Saturday (Feb. 25) to sew up the seventh seed in a 5 p.m. contest at Southwestern Christian.

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