SHAWNEE, Okla. – The Drovers couldn’t overcome top-seeded and fourth-ranked John Brown in the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament Semifinals on Friday evening, falling to the Golden Eagles 85-74.
USAO entered the tournament as the fourth seed after losing the tie breaker to Mid-America Christian.
The tournament is a single elimination. USAO returns home and will have to rely on at-large bids to continue to the NAIA Men’s Basketball National Tournament hopes.
John Brown moves on to play in the SAC Championship game at 7 p.m. Saturday. The winner of the SAC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the national tournament.
John Brown got off to an early 8-0 lead on Friday, but it didn’t take more than a few minutes for the Drovers to turn it on and tie John Brown at 17 and then quickly take a four-point lead with layups by Brandon Cutler and Kennis White.
Cutler had six points and White had four on Friday.
USAO got up to a seven-point lead with just 8:30 left in the first half, but the Golden Eagles mounted their first half comeback to take the 39-34 lead at halftime. The Drovers’ last goal of the first half was with 4:10 left on the clock.
The teams traded baskets early in the second half with JBU holding onto their lead. The Golden Eagles went on a spree, leading by 16 with just nine minutes left in the game.
The Eagles kept their strong lead and, as the game went on, were able to run down the clock, limiting the Drovers chances for a comeback.
USAO had eight steals – five more than the Golden Eagles – and fewer turnovers in the game.
It was a tough time finding that basket that was USAO’s biggest downfall. The Drovers shot just 38.8 percent from the field, compared to JBU’s 52.8 percent. John Brown also dominated on bench points, scoring 44 to USAO’s 25.
Norris Rumph had 21 points in the game, scoring seven buckets and going 4-5 from the line.
Dejuan Lofton scored 15 points and had two of the Drovers’ eight steals in the game. Shavon Scott had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists.
The tournament is hosted by Oklahoma Baptist, and all games are played at OBU’s Noble Complex in Shawnee.