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Stephens leads JBU women to victory

n The sophomore poured in 32 points in a victory at Texas Wesleyan. by Graham Thomas | February 17, 2021 at 5:19 a.m.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Scoring 19 points in just the second half, sophomore Tarrah Stephens dominated the Texas Wesleyan defense in the paint and produced a career-best 32 points, carrying the John Brown University women's basketball team to a 70-62 win, its fifth straight, on Saturday afternoon inside Sid Richardson Center.

"Another good night for us with a back-to-back game on the road," said JBU coach Jeff Soderquist. "This team has really been troopers with this crazy schedule and lack of practice. Very proud of them."

Also hitting a career-best 13 field goals, Stephens pulled down a team-best eight rebounds and added a pair of assists.

"TWU is very good with their zone defense and we had to adjust our offense," Soderquist said. "We basically put it on Tarrah's shoulders. We spread out the zone and let Tarrah go to work. Very proud to see the type of player Tarrah is becoming."

After starting the season 0-3, the Golden Eagles (5-3, 5-3 Sooner Athletic) have won five in a row, setting up the final week of the season that has a rematch at Southwestern Christian (Okla.) on Thursday and a slugfest with regular-season favorite No. 14 Oklahoma City on senior day Saturday at Bill George Arena.

Shooting 40 percent from the field (23 of 53), JBU has now hit more than a 40 percent clip in its last five outings after starting out the season 35 percent over its first three contests. The Golden Eagles also connected on 11 triples, and held the Rams (1-10, 1-9) to 5 of 20 (25 percent) from long range.

While only nabbing four offensive rebounds, John Brown didn't need to match Wesleyan's rebounding advantage, especially after jumping out to an early 13-4 lead -- courtesy of three triples -- two of which coming from freshman Natalie Smith off the bench.

Armed with a solid 51-42 advantage heading into the final quarter, John Brown had to absorb a 12-4 run from Texas Wesleyan that saw the JBU lead whittled to just one, 55-54. Senior leadership took over, however, as Taylor Fergen's triple with 5:15 left jump-started a game-ending 14-8 Golden Eagle rally to place the contest out of reach from the Rams. Fergen scored seven during the rally as the hosts were limited to seven empty possessions down the stretch.

Fergen finished with three triples en route to a 16-point outing and dished out a game-best five assists. While Stephens and Fergen accounted for nearly 70 percent of John Brown's offensive output, Smith came off the bench to contribute eight points and a pair of boards, while junior Maddie Altman added six points on a pair of treys.

The Rams featured a pair of double-double performances from Evie Whorley and Makayla Coy -- 13 points, 10 assists and 10 points, 10 assists, respectively -- and was paced offensively by Hailee Walls' 16 points. Lindsey Thorpe came off the bench to provide 15 points in the loss.

"I was also proud of Josie (Sisk) playing defense on their best player (Coy) and holder her to 10 points," Soderquist said. "It was a team defensive effort on her, but Josie was the one that had the assignment."

John Brown was scheduled to play at College of the Ozarks on Monday, but that game was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Golden Eagles are scheduled to return to action Thursday at Southwestern Christian.

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