If John Brown's men can catch Wayland Baptist in the Sooner Athletic Conference basketball standings before the regular season ends, the Golden Eagles will have the tiebreaker advantage in the conference tournament.
John Brown closed the gap on the 10th-ranked Pioneers as the Golden Eagles held off a furious comeback attempt and completed the series sweep with a 78-75 victory Thursday night in Bill George Arena. The win moved JBU (18-7, 12-5) within 1 1/2 games of Wayland Baptist with five games remaining before Saturday's game against Panhandle State.
"We're still fighting for so many things," coach Jason Beschta said. "We want to keep getting better, finish strong and maybe to even take over. We still play some of the top teams in our league. We also play some teams that aren't near the top, but that doesn't mean anything because some of those teams in the bottom half have already beaten us.
"So we've got some great games ahead of us. If we can continue to focus on getting better, and we've done that really well -- game after game, wins or losses. We're still getting better and having that focus, and it's paying off."
Luke Harper's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave JBU a 32-25 halftime cushion, and the Golden Eagles took their biggest lead, 53-37, after Jake Caudle hit two free throws with 11:45 remaining. It was still a 67-53 game after Desmond Kennedy hit a layup with 3:09 left to play, but that was JBU's last bucket and set the stage for Wayland Baptist's comeback attempt.
The Pioneers (18-6, 13-3) went on an 11-2 run and pulled within 69-64 on Trevonta Robertson's two free throws with 1:14 remaining, and JBU's lead shrank to 78-75 after Josh Throns hit all three free throws with 5.3 seconds left. The Golden Eagles then threw away an inbounds pass near midcourt, but the Pioneers' chance to tie the game was thwarted by a walking violation with 0.2 seconds on the clock.
"The thing I told our guys, once we got into the locker room, was to not let the last 4 minutes take away what we did in the first 36 minutes," Beschta said. "I thought our guys played great. We were locked in defensively, we forced a lot of turnovers. I think that was the number one thing we did that led up to where we were.
"I thought we did a great job of executing offensively. We were able to get some great shots and stretch out what they do. We knew one of the keys to playing them and being in the game was not let them get going with turnovers. You can't give them offensive boards because they are dangerous there, and in the first half we did a really good job."
Josh Bowling had 20 points to lead four JBU players in double figures, but he suffered an ankle injury with 3:28 remaining and didn't return. Harper was next with 17, followed by Caudle with 13 and Kennedy with 10.
Robertson had 18 to lead Wayland Baptist, while J.J. Culver added 14 and Spencer Lindsey 12.
John Brown 78,
Wayland Baptist 75
Wayland Baptist 25 50 -- 75
John Brown 32 46 -- 78
Wayland Baptist (18-6, 13-3): Robertson 18, Culver 14, Lindsey 12, Obinwa 8, Throns 7, Fillmore 5, Nobles 4, Mazionis 4, Betjol 2, Doerue 1.
John Brown (18-7, 12-5): Bowling 20, Harper 17, Caudle 13, Kennedy 10, Grabliauskas 9, Toussaint 4, Bailey 4, Carnes 1.
John Brown 89, Bacone 73
MUSKOGEE, Okla. -- For the second time this season, the No. 21 John Brown University men's basketball team overcame a halftime deficit and rolled to a 50-point outburst in the second half to register an 89-73 win over Bacone (Okla.) on Tuesday, Feb. 5, inside Palmer Gymnasium.
Senior Josh Bowling led the second-half effort by scoring 15 of his team-leading 23 points in the comeback effort as he converted all six chances at the stripe to accompany a five rebound and three assist effort.
Senior Jake Caudle bolstered the four double-digit scoring productions from JBU with 16 points while junior Desmond Kennedy came off the bench to hit three triples and produce 15 points.
Sophomore Densier Carnes completed his second-career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, becoming the fourth Golden Eagle this season to complete a double-double effort.
Jared Walsh's game-high 24 points, and seven rebounds, kept the Warriors in the hunt, as did Christian Brown's 23 points. Ahjae Johnson added 13 points for the hosts in the loss.
JBU was scheduled to host Oklahoma Panhandle State on Saturday at Bill George Arena. Results were not available at presstime. The Golden Eagles are back in action Thursday at Mid-America Christian.Sports on 02/10/2019
Print Headline: JBU completes sweep of Wayland Baptist