Golden Eagles Continue Hot Play, Roll Past MACU, 89-80

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 21, 2013) — The third-ranked Golden Eagles secured its seventh-straight victory as freshman guard Kofi Josephs drained a team-high 22 points, landing John Brown an 89-80 victory over Mid-America Christian, Thursday night at the Gaulke Activity Center.

With the win, the Golden Eagles secured a program-record 25 wins in a single regular season.

Josephs netted four triples on eight attempts to accompany four field goals inside the arc, resulting in 22 points. Josephs has now converted 68 treys on the season to lead the Golden Eagles in total three-pointers. A trio of Golden Eagles joined Josephs in double-digit scoring, lead by senior guard Abel Galliguez's season-high 20 points. Galliguez shot 5-of-7 from the field, knocking down two triples and finished 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.

In lieu of Max Hopfgartner's absence, freshman forward D'Shon Taylor stepped up in his 35 minutes of playing time, scoring 18 points on a 9-of-12 effort from the field while grabbing a team-high six rebounds. Senior guard E.J. McWoods also chipped in with 14 points, again steady at the free throw line, converting 9-of-10 opportunities.

"I thought Charlie Shorter was the difference in the game for MACU tonight," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "We did a great job with their initial shots, but they finished with 24 offensive rebounds, and that's not good enough. But, we did a lot of things good on the offensive end, and that was enough tonight."

Coleson Rakestraw started the scoring for John Brown with an early triple. The Evangels would respond quickly, however, piecing together a 9-0 run to take an early 9-3 advantage. JBU responded with back-to-back baskets from Taylor and Josephs, cutting the deficit to two. After MACU's triple, John Brown's 8-4 run over the next 1:01 brought the game to within a point, 16-15.

The Evangels continued its hot shooting, nabbing a pair of four-point leads before extending the score to six, 23-17. JBU retaliated by notching the next seven points when Taylor's bucket down low and Josephs' triple brought the Golden Eagles all the way back to its first lead of the game, 24-23.

After a Mid-America triple, and a brief one-point lead, John Brown answered as McWoods converted six free throws over the final 5:43 of the half. Josephs would score another triple and Taylor's put-back slam at the buzzer handed the Golden Eagles a 39-36 halftime lead.

Defending the slim three-point lead, John Brown scored the first six points out of the intermission as Galliguez knocked down a bucket in between a pair of baskets from Taylor. The visitors' lead ballooned to 10 on a pair of occasions after both teams traded two triples. Another trey from Josephs pushed the lead to 11, 54-43, and was again returned after Nate Anderson notched his only basket of the frame.

Finally, the Golden Eagles secured some breathing room as it lead grew to 15, 67-52, courtesy of six consecutive points by Galliguez, four which came down low in the post. The Evangels, playing in front of its home crowd on senior night, returned the Galliguez run with a 6-0 run of its own, trimming the deficit to nine, 67-58. Galliguez continued his string of hot shooting, placing the hosts back into double-digit deficit territory when his triple at the 4:05 mark returned the lead back to 12.

The lead remained over 10 points for the next 1:56 for JBU until Charlie Shorter's three-pointer trimmed it to seven, 80-73. After McWoods and Galliguez split two shots at the line each, MACU came to within five with just over a minute left in regulation.

Again, sealing the game came down to clutch free throw shooting. Over the last minute of play, the Golden Eagles sank 8-of-10 free throws, capturing the 89-80 victory. While the score was at a tender 86-80 margin, McWoods' timely steal with 25 seconds left evaporated any Evangel hope of a late comeback bid.

John Brown ended the game shooting 59.6 percent (31-of-52) from the field and went 8-of-17 from long-range. The Evangels couldn't keep up, finishing with a 39.2 percent shooting clip from the field, but went 10-of-21 from three-point range.

Hopfgartner's absence could be felt on the boards as Mid-America Christian earned a decisive 43-32 advantage in rebounding. However, Taylor's strong play in the post helped the Golden Eagles to a 42-28 margin in points in the paint.

"When you have a key piece like Max out, everyone has to play better," added Sheehy. "Our rebounding wasn't enough tonight. That being said, D'Shon was really good tonight and he shot at a high percentage, which was really good for us. Getting the win in here tonight is encouraging, it shows a maturity that is very exciting."

Charlie Shorter, who just recently eclipsed the 2,000 point mark in his last outing, scored a career-high 42 points for MACU. However, he attempted 29 of the Evangel's 74 shots during the game, allowing the JBU bench to make its presence felt. The Golden Eagle reserves secured a 24-15 advantage in bench points as no other Mid-America player netted over 11 points.

The victory sends John Brown into its final regular season contest, a highly-anticipated rematch with Oklahoma Baptist (23-6, 11-4 SAC), who had secured the second seed in the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament earlier this week. The Bison will travel to Bill George Arena in a 5:00 p.m. tilt with the Golden Eagles on Saturday, Feb 23. OBU is ranked No. 9 in the latest NAIA Coaches' Poll.

The contest on Saturday is the NAIA National Game of the Week.