Enthusiastic Golden Eagles fans packed the charter bus headed for the Abe Lemons Arena on Saturday, March 2. Hearts raced as JBU played Oklahoma City University for the Sooner Athletic Conference Championship, a title that would secure a spot in the national tournament.
Josh Bowling, No. 2 in the nation in free-throws, and Jake Caudle, No. 10 in triples, led JBU men’s basketball team in the conference tournament. The team had high hopes for a win, maintaining a lead through the majority of the game, but the OKC team was never far behind. The game ended in heartbreak as JBU’s buzzer-beater shot circled and left the hoop. The team fell short by just one point. JBU now waits to see whether its season is over or whether the team will be invited to the national tournament.
“There’s a difference even when we just warm up seeing all the people in the crowd,” said Ira Perrier, a sophomore and Golden Eagles guard. “The adrenaline gets pumping.” Next week, he said, “is just about finding out who we’re going to play.”
NAIA Division 1tournament competitors will be announced on Wednesday, March 13. Golden Eagle fans are invited to join the team gathered in Walker Student Center at 5 p.m. to view the Facebook Live results. The tournament, March 20-26, will be at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. With JBU’s 15-7 win-loss record, and 18th ranking in the division, the chances are high for the Eagles to play.
Thirty-two teams will play – 15 automatic qualifiers and 17 at-large berths, according to JBUAthletics.com. The 15 auto-berths are conference regular season and tournament champions or regular season and tournament runners-up from the nine Division I conferences around the nation…
Round 32 begins Wednesday, March 20; round 16 will be two days later. The quarterfinals are scheduled for Saturday, March 23. Semifinals and finals will be Monday and Tuesday, March 25-26, JBUAthletics.com reported.
The Golden Eagles will be practicing, healing and praying in the coming week. Said Caudle: “We’re ranked 18 in the nation so there’s like a 90 percent chance that we’re getting in the tournament. We believe we are getting in the tournament so we’re preparing like we are.”