John Brown men's coach Jason Beschta was a bit worried midway through the first half when Wayland Baptist (Texas) pulled ahead 28-17 over the Golden Eagles.
Turns out, there was nothing to worry about at all.
John Brown finished the first half on a 23-7 surge to take a halftime lead, and the Golden Eagles blew the game open in the second half for a 86-64 victory over the Pioneers inside Bill George Arena.
"Honestly, I could have seen that going the other way real quick," Beschta said, "because (Wayland Baptist) can really score so fast and so well that it really scared me digging a hole like that. We've done that a couple of other games this year and it was just too much to come back from.
"But I was really proud of our guys. After being down 11, we outscored them probably by 30 the rest of the game. I thought we guarded. We took better care of the basketball, and man, we just played together."
JBU's comeback started with a basket from Benjamin Smith, who gave the Golden Eagles a lift by scoring all 10 of his points in the first half.
Smith then knocked down a 3-pointer to bring the Golden Eagles within 30-25.
Darrell Jones knocked down two free throws to cut the deficit to 30-27, and Jake Caudle pulled the Golden Eagles within one with a basket.
Jones scored on a fast break to give JBU the lead for good at 31-30 with 2:07 left and the Golden Eagles got three consecutive 3-pointers -- two from Nathan Corder and another from Smith to close the first half with a 40-35 lead.
Wayland Baptist pulled within 46-43 in the second half but JBU had an answer with 13-0 to go up 59-43 in the second half. The Pioneers were able to slice the lead down to 10 points on a couple of occasions, but JBU responded each time to distance itself for the victory.
The Golden Eagles led by as many as 22 points in the second half.
Five JBU players scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Caudle. Brenton Toussaint added 12 points, Josh Bowling had 11, and Jones and Smith each had 10.
Jones also contributed nine assists with zero turnovers.
"Darrell obviously came in and you get him in an open court-type game where they're going to pressure him, and that's where he thrives more than anything," Beschta said. "nine assists and zero turnovers. If he hadn't had some fouls, he would have played more minutes too."
JBU hit 11 of 28 attempts from beyond the 3-point line and 17 of 18 from the free-throw line.
Ruben Lopez and Samuel Kalwanyi each scored 16 points to lead Wayland Baptist (9-3, 2-2).
"I thought we did a good job offensively of going inside out early in the game," said Wayland Baptist coach Ty Harrelson. "Toward the middle of the first half we stopped moving the ball. We didn't play our offense the way I'd like it to be executed. Credit to John Brown for taking us out of what we wanted to do. I thought they had a great game plan, and then they shot the ball very well.
"Give credit to John Brown. We didn't play well, but they played great. It's just one of those days. Conference is tough. John Brown's good. It's always a long trip going either way."
John Brown returned to action on Saturday against Panhandle State (Okla.). Results were not available at presstime. The Golden Eagles head to Texas this week for games at Texas Wesleyan on Thursday and at Southwestern Assemblies of God on Saturday.
John Brown 86, Wayland Baptist 64
Wayland Baptist (9-3, 2-2): Lopez 16, Kalwanyi 16, Culver 9, Mazionis 8, Davis 6, Shields 5, Throns 2, Robertson 2.
John Brown (8-4, 3-1): Caudle 19, Toussaint 12, Bowling 11, Jones 10, Smith 10, Corder 9, Waller 7, Grabliauskas 4, Joksimovic 2, Habazin 2.Sports on 01/07/2018
Print Headline: Golden Eagles rally, pick off Pioneers