No. 4 John Brown Wins See-Saw Battle over Lubbock Christian, 72-71
LUBBOCK, Texas (January 24, 2013) — In a game reminiscent of a week ago in Shawnee, Okla. against Oklahoma Baptist, the fourth-ranked Golden Eagles (18-3, 7-0 SAC) overcame a five-point deficit late in the second half to secure a 72-71 victory Thursday night over Lubbock Christian (10-9, 3-4 SAC) in the Rip Griffin Center.
Sporting its highest ranking in program history, John Brown had to rely on two Kent High layups with less than four minutes to go to earn the victory in a game that featured 15 ties, 17 lead changes and never more than a five-point gap between the two programs.
"This is an example as why our conference is so difficult, game in and game out," said head coach Clark Sheehy. "Lubbock Christian did a fantastic job tonight. They were very well-prepared and guarded us well. It kept us from getting into our rhythm in the first half."
Facing a 66-61 disadvantage with 4:12 remaining in the game, E.J. McWoods buried a timely three-pointer, cutting the deficit to a single bucket. High then took over from there, scoring the next four points to hand John Brown its first two-point lead since the 10:00 mark of the half. At the right corner of the arc, High exploded past two defenders, placing him all alone under the hoop, making no mistake to tie the game. The Golden Eagles nabbed the advantage as High broke down the left side, avoided the offensive foul, and scooped in the basket, capping off a 7-0 JBU run.
"It's much easier to make plays at the end of the game when you're playing with brothers," added High of his late-game heroics. "We play for each other, not for ourselves."
Max Hopfgartner's bucket down low pushed the lead to four before LCU responded with a basket of its own. A pair of McWoods' free throws made it a two-possession game, but the Chaparrals caught the JBU defense off-guard, a nailed a deep triple from the left baseline, bringing the score within one. Pinned on the sideline and looking to absorb a foul was McWoods with moments left, but no foul was called and the senior guard lost control of the ball, handing Lubbock Christian one final play with moments remaining.
As it has time and time again, the Golden Eagle defense made its final stand and denied two LCU shots at the end of the game, holding on to the one-point victory, 72-71.
"We did a nice job towards the end of the game, taking advantage of key possessions and coming up with big stops and rebounds at the other end of the court," admitted Sheehy. "Ultimately, we need to manage the game better by making sure we control the ball. We're going to make sure we realize improvements need to be made coming off a game like this in order for us to continue our success moving forward."
High ended up finishing the night with a team-high 14 points off the bench, which included two triples and three assists. Three other players figured in double-digit scoring as McWoods and Coleson Rakestraw chipped in with 12 apiece while Abel Galiguez knocked down a game-high three triples en route to an 11-point performance. McWoods had a game-high five assists.
John Brown committed five more turnovers than the Chaps, 13-8, but both teams were able to notch 10 points off the other's miscues. The Golden Eagle big men Nate Anderson and Max Hopfgartner combined for 13 leads, leading JBU to a 30-22 advantage in points in the paint.
The Sooner Athletic Conference-leading defense of John Brown kept Lubbock Christian to a 32.5 percent scoring clip in the second half (13-of-40) while the Golden Eagles managed to drop 14 baskets on 29 attempts, landing a 48.3 percent shooting accuracy in the second half. The difference came from the red-hot distance shooting of JBU, as the visitors landed seven treys in the final 20 minutes of play, 11 total for the game.
The first half had an incredible nine ties as John Brown could only manage a five-point advantage at the 6:14 mark after McWoods added a triple to accompany another field goal. Lubbock Christian's largest lead was three halfway through the first stanza, but it wouldn't hold long as an unassisted High triple erased the Chap lead.
Junior forward Anthony Brancato lead all scorers for LCU with 20 points while chipping in with nine rebounds. Freshman guard A.J. Luckey added 16 points, but was limited to 5-of-15 shooting on the night.
The Golden Eagles will look to continue its seven-game win streak on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 26, when John Brown completes its west Texas road trip at Wayland Baptist (12-8, 3-4 SAC). The Pioneers have lost four of its last six games against JBU dating back to 2010. Tip-off is slated for 3:00 p.m. at the Hutcherson Center in Plainview.