Stephens makes history as JBU women continue to win

Photo by John Brown University Sports Information Tarrah Stephens of John Brown University is shown in a game on Jan. 27 at Langston (Okla.).
Photo by John Brown University Sports Information Tarrah Stephens of John Brown University is shown in a game on Jan. 27 at Langston (Okla.).

PLAINVIEW, Texas -- An early 23-4 lead evaporated in the third quarter, but the Golden Eagles never trailed as senior Tarrah Stephens converted a pair of free throws with 1 second left to break a 60-all tie and the No. 16 John Brown University women's basketball team held on for a 62-60 win over Wayland Baptist on Saturday.

After the Flying Queens tied the game with 4 seconds left, the Golden Eagles (19-3, 16-0 Sooner Athletic) called timeout and advanced the ball into the frontcourt. Stephens took the inbound pass and quickly drove to the hoop. On the layup attempt, she earned the foul, placing her at the line to not only win the game but also achieve history.

With her first attempt rattling in, Stephens tied Baily Cameron in career scoring, and with a much easier second attempt, the Wyandotte, Okla., native hit 2,035 points vaulting her to the top spot in the JBU record books.

Wayland inbounded the ball to halfcourt and a last-second three pointer wouldn't have counted as shot didn't come off in time, extending John Brown's program-best winning streak to 17 games.

Six different players scored in a first quarter that saw JBU dominate the Flying Queens, paced by six points from senior Bella Irlenborn.

Wayland Baptist drew to within 48-43 with 10 minutes remaining.

Senior Josie Sisk provided consecutive buckets in the paint and Stephens converted a three-point play to return the lead to seven, 57-52, with 6:26 left.

With only 8 seconds left, senior Natalie Smith took a hard foul and took to the line. After converting only the front end, WBU called timeout and advanced the ball. Linda Brice tied the game with a running layup with 4 seconds left. Then Stephens' heroics took center stage.

Stephens scored nine of her team-leading 15 points in the fourth quarter, adding eight rebounds and two assists. Irlenborn went 3 of 3 from behind the arc and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Sisk came off the bench to provide 10 points.

The Golden Eagles will return to Siloam Springs and begin a two-game homestand Thursday night when North Texas at Dallas comes to Bill George Arena. Tip time is 6 p.m.

JBU 59, Panhandle State 41

GOODWELL, Okla. -- Senior Bella Irlenborn scored 14 of her game-high 16 points in the second and third quarters and the No. 16 John Brown University women's basketball team used a 16-5 run that overlapped from the first to second quarter to pull away for good in a 59-41 win at Oklahoma Panhandle State on Thursday night.

Senior Emily Sanders hit three of four three pointers to contribute 13 points and senior Tarrah Stephens added 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks for the Golden Eagles.

John Brown improved to 17-0 on the season when holding its opposition under 40% shooting and used a stifling defense that produced 19 turnovers. JBU then converted the Panhandle State miscues into 16 points, largely fueling the season-sweeping win. JBU also improved to 10-1 on the season when winning the battle of turnovers.

After jumping out to a quick 6-2 advantage, John Brown saw the Aggies piece together a 5-0 run to take their only lead of the game, 7-6. Sanders responded with a layup and freshman Abbey Sanders drained a three pointer before the end of the first quarter to build some momentum that quickly snowballed into the second stanza.

Up 11-9, freshman Briley Burns and Irlenborn hit consecutive threes and the run continued through another Burns layup and ended with an old-fashioned three-point play from Irlenborn. The result, a 22-12 JBU lead, widened all the way to 13 before halftime, largely in part to back-to-back three pointers from senior Natalie Smith and Emily Sanders.

Another 13-4 run -- and another six points from Irlenborn -- opened the second half and placed the game out of reach at 42-23. JBU led 57-33 with 7:11 remaining in the game.

JBU did shoot below 40%, hitting 21 of 55 from the field, but turned the ball over just five times, its second-lowest turnover total of the season.