Despite COVID-19 and injuries, JBU basketball teams remain competitive – The Threefold Advocate

Basketball season at John Brown University is in full swing, and the men’s and women’s basketball teams are just over halfway through their Sooner Athletic Conference schedule. Just like last year, January presented its share of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic that teams had to navigate. Despite this, both teams are finding ways to stay competitive.

The 2021 side of the season has been a mixed bag for the women’s basketball team, led by head coach Jeff Soderquist in its 25th season. JBU held a pre-Christmas break losing record at 6-7 overall as the 2021 squad featured more than a few close matchups that ultimately didn’t go JBU’s way in the end. Four of their seven pre-Christmas break losses have been decided by seven runs or less.

JBU returned from a three-week layoff on Jan. 1, where they scored a convincing 15-point victory over Oklahoma Panhandle State (80-65) to come back within .500 overall at 7-7. However, the effects of COVID-19 hit the schedule in the days that followed, leaving them unable to play their next three games. Those games were all forfeited and the women’s basketball team added three losses to their tally. Narrow losses Jan. 13 to Science & Arts (55-50) and Jan. 15 to Texas Wesleyan (74-72 in OT) put JBU five games down .500 at 7-12 overall and 3-8 in conference. .

This set the stage for a very important game with Langston on January 20, as the Golden Eagles badly needed a win to keep the season from slipping away from them. JBU’s previous date with Langston ended in controversy, as Langston claimed the win on November 18 on a three-point shot from Asheika Alexander, although whether or not Alexander made the shot was questionable. winning on time has been questioned.

This time, the Golden Eagles were the more dominant team. JBU controlled the momentum for most of the game, leading to an 86-67 victory. Natalie Smith scored a career-high 25 points, including seven three-pointers. Tarrah Stephens added 24 points on 10-for-12 shooting. As a team, John Brown had 11 three-pointers against a Langston team that was one of the most effective in the conference at defending the three-pointer this season.

When discussing the win, Soderquist pointed to JBU’s efforts beyond the arc as a key factor, saying, “When you shoot like that, what he does is he l opens for Tarrah. [Stephens]then Tarrah started having easy one-on-one looks on the inside,” Soderquist said, adding that “when we hit three like that, it just helps our inside game because they have to go and honor that. .

The Golden Eagles were able to continue the dominating performance by earning a 29-point victory over last-placed Central Christian on January 22. They returned to Bill George Arena on Tuesday, January 25, where they defeated Oklahoma City by one score. from 87-69. It was the first time the JBU Women had beaten the OCU in nearly eight years, and it was the first time they had won against the Stars at Siloam Springs in more than two decades. Natalie Smith broke her recently set career high with 28 points in the winning effort. The victory put John Brown at 10-12 overall and 6-8 in conference. The Golden Eagles enter Thursday as one of the hottest teams in the conference, winning their last three by an average of 22 points.

Meanwhile, the men’s JBU returned from the Christmas break with an 8-5 record, which, like the women’s team, included several close losses (the men’s basketball team’s three losses before the SAC Christmas holiday came by a combined total of nine points). The men returned, and despite missing starter Brenton Toussaint, who is out for the season, they still had a dominating performance against the Oklahoma Panhandle State on Jan. 1. They picked up an 87-67 win over the Aggies at Bill George Arena. Then the JBU men picked up a victory via the COVID-19 package after Wayland Baptist was unable to come to Siloam Springs to play their match on January 3.

Following this, the Golden Eagles received a major blow in the form of losing the top scorer and twice being selected as Densier Carnes’ all-conference for the season due to injury. JBU lost three of its next four, including a 67-63 nailbiter at Bill George Arena against #15 Science & Arts.

Langston’s game on January 20 gave JBU a chance to recover, and they delivered, as they were able to complete the season sweep against Langston, as they went on an explosive 28-0 run that s extended over both halves to head for a 101-56 victory, extending Langston’s conference losing streak to 25. It was the fourth time this season that JBU had reached the century mark in scoring and the first time they’ve done so against an SAC opponent since Jan. 16, 2018. Rokas Grabliauskas led the way with 19 points, while Nemanja Obraovic was right behind him with a career-high 17 points. It was one of JBU’s most impressive performances both offensively and defensively all season.

“We understood who we are in the last two weeks,” Beschta said after the victory. “I think the guys came out and really made a statement.”

The JBU men then traveled to McPherson, Kansas and defeated Central Christian two days later on January 22 to complete the season sweep against the Tigers. Luke Harper led the team in scoring with 22 points.

Then they faced a tough test in the form of Oklahoma City on Tuesday, January 25. failed to score in the final seven minutes of the first half and displayed similar attacking futility in the second half. The end result was a 73-62 loss to OCU, dropping JBU to 13-9 on aggregate and 7-7 in SAC play heading into Thursday. Grabliauskas again topped John Brown’s score with 11 points.

The Golden Eagles return to the field tonight to take on North Texas in Dallas. The JBU Women will be looking to avenge their Dec. 4 64-63 loss to the Trailblazers. The UNTD women hold an overall record of 10-11 and are 4-10 in SAC play. They have lost three in a row and four of their last five games.

Meanwhile, the JBU men will look to even the season series against UNTD after suffering a 65-64 loss to the Trailblazers on Dec. 4. The UNTD men, coached by former NBA star Josh Howard, are 8-13-10 in SAC play. They have also lost four of their last five games. This will be UNTD’s first time facing JBU inside the Bill George Arena.

The women’s game will kick off first at 6:05 p.m., while the men’s game is scheduled to start at 7:45 p.m. Both games can be watched online on the SAC Sports Network.

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