Josephs Drains 14, Golden Eagles Fend Off Stars, 66-62
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (February 9, 2013) — Tied for the fifth time of the night at 59 apiece, neither team was able to drain a field goal after that point, but the No. 4 Golden Eagles (22-4, 11-1 SAC) converted 6-of-8 free throw attempts down the stretch, fending off upset-minded Oklahoma City (12-9, 5-8 SAC) by a final score of 66-62 Saturday afternoon at Abe Lemons Arena.
Freshman forward Kofi Josephs netted a team-high 14 points, earning him double-digit scoring figures in each of his last four outings. Three other players chipped in double-digit performances, including senior guards E.J. McWoods and Coleson Rakestraw, as the duo each finished with 13 points while freshman forward D'Shon Taylor added 10 points and eight rebounds.
John Brown jumped out to a quick 9-2 lead, courtesy of three-consecutive triples by Josephs, as he knocked down nine of his 14 points in the first 4:13 of the game. A basket down low by Nate Anderson and a trey from Kent High pushed the Oklahoma City deficit to a game-high 14 points, 20-6, at 12:45 mark of the first half.
However, five JBU turnovers over the next 5:19 allowed the Stars to piece together a 18-4 run that knotted the game at 24. Over that stretch, the Golden Eagles went cold from the field, missing five of six opportunities taken from the field. Only a pair of Max Hopfgartner free throws and a bucket from McWoods kept John Brown within striking distance.
After a two-minute lull where neither team was able to secure any points, both teams traded two free-throw conversion, forcing the second deadlock of the match. Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, the Stars controlled the last 4:20 of the half, grabbing nine of the remaining 16 points to take a 35-33 lead into the intermission.
JBU didn't shoot well in the first half as the Golden Eagles converted at a 36.0 percent clip (9-of-25), but its shooting from behind the arc kept them afloat (6-of-12). OCU shot better than 50.0 percent from the field, 13-of-25, but only managed to drop three shots from three-point range.
Despite taking 2:32 to make its first field goal, Rakestraw's triple forced the third tie of the game for the Golden Eagles at the 17:27 mark. Rakestraw's trey spurred the fourth-ranked visitors to a 10-0 run, sparked by an incredible individual effort by Taylor. After swatting an OCU attempt aside on the defensive end, Taylor forced an old-fashioned three-point play in the front court, handing the Golden Eagles a 39-36 lead. Rakestraw and Taylor would cap off the double-digit run with a triple each, returning the momentum, and the lead, to JBU.
The pesky Stars wouldn't roll over, as Oklahoma City answered with a 11-2 run of its own, forcing the Golden Eagles into a cold streak, missing four baskets and committing a turnover over the 3:12 OCU run. Hopfgartner stopped the bleeding by scoring a bucket down low, assisted by Rakestraw, while drawing the foul and converting the three-point play.
With just over eight minute left in the game and defending a slim four-point lead, 51-47, Rakestraw answered the bell again, draining his third shot from behind the arc in the contest, handing John Brown a reasonable five-point lead, 57-52. Oklahoma City, however, responded with a deep ball of its own and, after an attempted Kent High three-point basket, the Stars pulled even again, 57-57, after two free throws.
Hopfgartner's retaliation on the offensive end didn't fall and OCU took its first lead since the 19:30 mark of the second half with just over two and a half minutes remaining. Senior leadership stepped up again as McWoods responded with a field goal of his own, forcing the fifth and final tie before the match evolved into a game of free throws.
McWoods and Josephs would each convert both chances, respectively, while the Golden Eagles received a single point from Kurtis Phillips and Taylor. The John Brown defense held strong over the final 2:23, not allowing Oklahoma City a single field goal, and forcing four-consecutive misses to earn its fourth victory in a row, 66-62.
The visitors' defensive effort over the final 20 minutes was apparent as the Golden Eagles only allowed the Stars eight field goals in the second half (8-of-35). The win was even more impressive as JBU overcame losing the turnover battle (15-8), the points in the paint effort (26-12) and the reserve scoring struggle (36-31).
JBU was, however, able to outrebound the host squad 45-38, securing 11 offensive rebounds in the winning effort as Taylor's game-high eight caroms was followed up nicely by seven each from Rakestraw and Anderson.
The Golden Eagles now only need one more victory in its final four games, three of which will occur at Bill George Arena, to secure at least a share of the Sooner Athletic Conference regular season championship. Next week will feature a pair of teams from Texas as Wayland Baptist (14-11, 5-7 SAC) and Lubbock Christian (13-11, 6-6) make appearances in Siloam Springs. John Brown returns to action when its faces the Pioneers on Thursday, Feb. 14, in a 8:00 p.m. tip-off.