The Lady Eagles hope to do something this week that they have not done in over a decade: beat number one. The Lady Eagles will play defending National Champion Oklahoma City Stars, who are in a tie for first in this week’s NAIA coaches’ poll, on Saturday.
“You have to believe you can win,” said head coach Jeff Soderquist. “We’ve got to do a good job defensively, limit our turnovers and execute … and get good shots.”
The last time the Eagles beat Oklahoma City was during the 2000-2001 season, when they upset the then-ranked No. 1 Stars, who won the NAIA championship that year.
“We can come up with a game plan to frustrate them offensively,” Soderquist said. “Its whether or not we can score the ball and not turn the ball over.”
A win over OCU this year would not just be historic, it would also give John Brown momentum going into the last leg of their schedule. The Lady Eagles are currently sitting at sixth in the conference, with a 4-7 conference record.
JBU won its first home conference game of the season on Jan. 31, defeating last-place USAO 79-69. In that game, the Lady Eagles dominated early, building a 21-point lead at halftime. They withstood a late USAO run thanks to a 17-point second half by senior guard Anna Parish.
They followed that with a 77-69 home loss to 1-7 St. Gregory’s on Saturday and a 66-55 loss to second-place Rogers State on the road on Monday.
“We played really well on Thursday [vs USAO]” Soderquist said. “Saturday we just ran into a buzzsaw. We didn’t play all that bad defensively but we just couldn’t stop [St. Gregory’s] from scoring.”
In the game on Saturday the Eagles had a hard time stopping SGU guard Leticia Silva, who scored a career-high 33 points. Silva was named this week’s SAC Player of the Week for her effort.
The Cavaliers started that game on a 16-5 run and in the first five minutes only missed one shot.
In the loss to Rogers State, the Eagles trailed by as little as four with 5:37 after trailing by large margins most of the game. But the Lady Eagles only made one shot from the floor the rest of the game and RSU put the game away with a 10-0 run.
JBU is currently 6.5 games behind OCU but is only 1.5 games out of fourth place and the conference tournament opening round ‘home game’ that comes with it.
Soderquist said a fourth seed in the conference tournament is a goal, and its one that is still within reach, especially with three of the Eagles’ last four games against the fourth, fifth, and seventh place teams in the conference.
After the road game in Oklahoma City, the Lady Eagles will have three of their remaining four games at home.
The Lady Eagles take on the Stars Saturday at 3 p.m. in Oklahoma City.