OKLAHOMA CITY -- While leading by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, the John Brown women's basketball team finished the game on a 6-1 run to fend off Bellevue (Neb.) for a 63-53 win Saturday, Nov. 11, inside Gaulke Activity Center to close out the Mid-America Christian (Okla.) Classic.
Junior Emily Sanders converted all six attempts from the free-throw line in the final two minutes and finished the afternoon with a game-high 19 points. Shooting 5 of 8 from the floor, Sanders also drained three of her six attempts from behind the 3-point line and added five assists and a trio of blocks.
Three other Golden Eagles (2-2) finished in double-figure scoring as the starting lineup produced all the points for John Brown. Senior Bella Irlenborn sank 7 of 10 from the field and flirted with a double-double, scoring 17 points and grabbing a team-leading nine boards. Senior Natalie Smith added 11 points, while senior Tarrah Stephens contributed 10 points and two blocks in her second stint of action following injury.
Sanders, Irlenborn and Stephens' final scoring output were season-highs, respectively.
John Brown started strong, scoring on nine of its first 16 possessions, shooting 56 percent from the field, to build a 24-13 lead after the first quarter. Sanders and Smith both scored six apiece, while Irlenborn and Stephens added five each. The Golden Eagle defense, despite allowing the Bruins (2-4) to shoot 6 of 8 from the floor, produced eight turnovers that helped build their 11-point advantage.
While the Bellevue turnover issue subsided in the second quarter, the shooting effort fell dramatically as JBU continued to build its lead, especially just before halftime. Smith drained a triple and Sanders followed with a mid-range jumper and a three-pointer of her own in the final 3:08 of the second as John Brown enjoyed a 16-point lead at halftime, 36-20.
Statistically, the second half was nearly identical but the Golden Eagles finished the final 20 minutes 8 of 10 from the free throw line, while the Bruins attempted just five at the stripe, hitting three.
With 2:19 remaining, the Bruins were able to whittle the JBU lead down to two possessions, 57-52, but finished the afternoon 0 for 6 from the field while Sanders rebuilt the double-digit lead at the other free throw line.
John Brown shot 44 percent overall (23-of-52) and finished 9 of 11 from the line. Bellevue finished at a 46 percent clip (21-of-46) but couldn't overcome the free-throw disparity and 18 turnovers.
Gabby Moore scored 16 in the losing effort for the Bruins. Kaylee Denker added 14 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Evangel (Mo.) 74, John Brown 58
Junior Emily Sanders drained a triple just before halftime to build a five-point Golden Eagle lead but the John Brown University women's basketball team suffered through a difficult second-half scoring effort, dropping a 74-58 loss to Evangel (Mo.) on Friday (Nov. 10) afternoon inside the Gaulke Activity Center.
Sanders finished the afternoon with a team-leading 14 points and five rebounds, while senior Natalie Smith added 13 points on three triples.
John Brown was out-rebounded 35-26 and committed 14 turnovers in the loss.
Hitting 9 of 12 from the floor in the second quarter, the Golden Eagles carried a 40-35 lead into the break, but the Valor (1-0) offense caught fire before the third quarter closed. Evangel finished on a 15-9 run to take a 57-53 lead into the final stanza.
JBU combined to shoot 1 of 12 from the floor in the fourth.
The Valor offense featured a trio in double-digit scoring, including Micah Clayton (15), Carson Dillard (13) and Jazzy Kirby (11).
John Brown will finish its season-opening six-game road trip with a pair of games in Florida as the Golden Eagles travel down to Lakeland to participate in the Southeastern (Fla.) Classic. JBU will take on St. Thomas (Fla.) first at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 17, before facing host Southeastern the following evening, also at 6 p.m.