At halftime of their second round matchup with Georgetown College, the men’s basketball team found itself down by 12 points. A furious second half comeback fueled by senior guard Abel Galliguez cut the deficit but fell short, ending the Eagles tournament run, and season, in an 80-67 loss to Georgetown.
“The team that beat us was playing really well and ended up winning the whole thing, said men’s head coach Clark Sheehy. “The tournament is so much about match ups.”
A dominant rebounding effort by the Tigers, in which they out rebounded the Golden Eagles 48-31, fueled a 12-0 run late in the first half to put the Tigers up 39-27 at the half.
“I thought if we could ever get it to that point where we took the lead then some pressure might set in on [Georgetown] but we never got to that point,” Sheehy said. “That (12-0) run was significant for building their momentum. When we made a run in the second half we were tying it up instead of taking a lead.”
Senior guard Galliguez led the Eagles’ charge in the second half, scoring a game-high 22 points and leading the Golden Eagles to tie the game 57-57 with 5:44 remaining.
“He’s as fierce a competitor as we’ve had here,” Sheehy said. “I wasn’t surprised at all to see him play like that.”
But after the Eagles tied the game, the momentum switched back to Georgetown and the Tigers outran JBU the rest of the way.
“They rebounded the ball really well and they got a lot of extra possessions on the offensive glass,” Sheehy said. “There was a stretch where we got stops but didn’t get the ball back.”
Georgetown finished the game on a 23-10 run to end the Golden Eagles season. Even though the Eagles were done, the Tigers were not. They ended up winning the NAIA National Championship with an 88-62 victory over Southwestern Assemblies of God University in the National title game.
Galliguez’s 22 points were a season high, and Sheehy lauded the effort of Galliguez as well as fellow seniors EJ McWoods and Coleson Rakestraw in leading the team this season.
“Obviously I could not be more proud of Coleson, Abel and EJ and for all three of those guys who not only played well this year but had really good careers,” Sheehy said. “I’m very proud of the way they carried themselves and [how] the way they act … really represents the school well.”
With the season over, the men’s basketball program will now go through the process of attempting to replace the most successful senior class in school history.
This year’s senior class was the winningest in program history, reaching the 100 win mark for their four years with the Eagles’ first round victory over Life (Ga.).
“There’s not a magical formula [and] there’s not a wand I can wave on them that will help us be more successful,” Sheehy said. “The daily process of improving every day, … continually trying to get better, and … identifying guys who are a good fit for our school can help us be successful.”
By looking to the future, Sheehy is not ignoring the historic success of this season, in which the team had an all time best 28-7 record and won the program’s first ever Sooner Athletic Conference regular season title and earned the team’s highest ever national ranking at third.
Clark Sheehy quoted his father and long-time John Brown head coach, John Sheehy: “It’s harder to win a conference championship than a national championship in the Sooner Athletic Conference,” Sheehy said.
“Twenty-eight wins is a good year. Winning our league is a good year,” Sheehy added.