John Brown and Southwestern Christian (Okla.) went wire-to-wire Saturday afternoon inside Bill George Arena with neither team giving the other much room for error.
In the end, SCU came up with the final four points of the game to edge the Golden Eagles 86-83 in Sooner Athletic Conference men's basketball action.
"Both ways, that was just a battle," said JBU head coach Jason Beschta. "Those are fun."
The final minute was enough drama for any basketball fan.
Down 81-80, John Brown's Lukas Gabani got behind the SCU defense for his third two-handed dunk of the game and a 82-81 lead for John Brown with 57.7 seconds left.
Southwestern Christian's Luiz Machado Jr. answered with a fallaway jump shot to put SCU back in front 82-81.
John Brown took an 83-82 lead with 37.8 seconds remaining on a short jumper by Noah Taylor.
Machado missed a 3-pointer on the other end, but Shawn Hopkins grabbed the offensive rebound and SCU called timeout.
Hopkins then scored inside with 21.1 seconds remaining to give the visiting Eagles an 84-83 lead.
Payton Guiot missed a jumper on the other end and SCU rebounded. Ronald Moore Jr. was fouled and hit two free throws to set what would be the final score with 8 seconds left.
Guiot missed a potential game tying 3-point attempt and time expired on the Golden Eagles (4-13, 2-9).
"It's just a really tough place to play," said Southwestern Christian men's coach Brandon Rollins, whose team improved to 7-7 overall and 5-6 in the SAC.
"This is a big boost," Rollins said. "Tough league, I know a lot of teams aren't going to come in here and get a win so this is a big one."
John Brown shot out to an early 9-2 lead bolstered by the return of guard Payton Guiot to the lineup. Guiot had missed the previous seven games with a back injury. His first game back was Jan. 12 at Mid-America Christian.
Guiot scored 18 points on Saturday and hit 4 of 13 from behind the 3-point line.
"It certainly helps and adds a punch, and it's going to take him some time after a couple of months off to get a feel for things," Beschta said of Guiot.
The Golden Eagles led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Southwestern Christian closed the gap to 36-34 at halftime.
The two teams traded leads in the second half with neither side able to pull away.
"I just think in the end there were some costly turnovers on our part," Beschta said. "They scored and they hit some shots and they did some things, but I think there were some key buckets in transition late that you've got to make a team work for her shots."
JBU, which was playing without guard D.J. Ellis due to an injury, had 16 turnovers, which SCU converted into 28 points.
The Golden Eagles hit 32 of 83 from the field and 10 of 34 from behind the 3-point line. JBU hit 9 of 11 free throws while Southwestern Christian hit 18 of 27 free throws.
SCU was 31 of 65 from the floor and 6 of 24 from long range.
"It was tough, because they played small with their big guy out," Beschta said. "It made us really adjust. I thought Lucas Gabani was enough that we needed him in there too. ... While he did a great job on offense, that's a tough matchup for him, I mean it means he's going to guard slashing guards. We tried to put him sometimes on their drivers so he doesn't have to get out on a shooter, that means you're asking a five to sit down and guard. A couple of times they got by him and just made a little bit more of the tougher plays there at the end than we did."
Taylor hit four 3-pointers off the bench and led JBU with 19 points. Gabani finished with 10 points.
Moore led SCU with 22 points, while Machado had 17, Jordan Williams 12 and Bralen Patterson 11.
The Golden Eagles are back in action Thursday at Science & Arts before returning home to face Texas Wesleyan on Saturday.
Southwestern Christian 86, John Brown 83
Southwestern Christian (7-7, 5-6): Moore 22, Machado 17, Williams 12, Patterson 11, Hopkins 7, Chapman 6, Ryan 4, Turner 3, Janloo 2, Wynn 2.
John Brown (4-13, 2-9): Taylor 19, Guiot 18, Gabani 10, Collins 9, Beckom 9, Reeves 8, Stewart 7, Morphis 3.
MACU 56, John Brown 44
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Freshman Josh Stewart scored a career-high 12 points, freshman Malachi Reeves added another dozen, but an early eight-point lead dwindled before the intermission as the John Brown University men's basketball squad battled a tough shooting night in a 56-44 loss at Mid-America Christian (Okla.) on Thursday night (Jan. 12) inside the Gaulke Activity Center.
John Brown managed just 30 percent efficiency (16-of-53) from the floor but stayed competitive by outrebounding MACU by a 41-39 margin and by controlling the paint, limiting the Evangels to just 14 points in the paint.
MACU also shot south of 40 percent (22 of 57) and rather pedestrian from long range (6 of 22), but the hosts' shooting numbers were enough to slide past John Brown, breaking a two-game Golden Eagle win streak at the Gaulke.
DaRaun Clark was MACU's lone double-digit scorer (11 points), but led a well-balanced Evangel scoring effort that featured at least five points from eight different scorers.
Stewart completed an and-one play at the 14:19 mark of the first half, which capped off a 9-0 JBU rally that reversed a 4-3 deficit and built a 12-4 John Brown advantage. Reeves, senior Tyren Collins and senior James Beckom each provided two points each to contribute to the run.
The host Evangels responded in kind, however, finishing the first half on a 24-11 run which saw JBU fall into a 5 of 17 rut from the floor, allowing MACU to build a 28-23 lead at the break.
"We did a lot of things really well tonight – we played the tempo game that we prefer and we defended well but we just could not shoot the basketball tonight," head coach Jason Beschta noted. "We worked for some really good shots and just had an off night. MACU certainly did a good job of pressuring our shooters and they also guarded well."
John Brown shot 25 percent (7 of 28) in the second half, but despite the inefficiency, stayed within three or four possessions for the remainder of the contest.