SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. (November 1, 2012) — The Golden Eagles (1-0) overcame a four-point halftime deficit as John Brown, powered by three players finishing in double-digit points, pieced together a second-half comeback to complete a 65-48 victory over Hillsdale Free Will Baptist (Okla.) in the 32nd Annual Toilet Paper Game tonight at Bill George Arena.
John Brown entered tonight's contest tied for the No. 17 spot in the NAIA preseason coaches' poll.
As custom dictates, after Abel Galliguez's three-pointer fell just 34 seconds into the game, the raucous JBU crowd of over 1,800 littered John Sheehy Court with toilet paper, celebrating the 32-year old tradition.
"It's a privilege and honor, I think, to make that shot," said Galliguez. "I've been struggling lately with confidence issues with my shot. I came out thinking that if given the chance and an open look, I would take it.
"What a great way to start my senior year, giving fans the opportunity to throw the toilet paper."
Hillsdale (0-2) would then convert its technical free throw chances, an unfortunate consequence of the celebratory throwing of the tissue.
After both teams took time feeling each other out, the visiting Saints capitalized on two John Brown turnovers, mounting an early five-point advantage, 12-7. After a three-minute lull, freshman Kent High's putback in the paint knotted the score at 17 with 9:10 to play in the first half.
High, pacing the Golden Eagles with a team-high 15 points and three triples, capped off a personal five-point run when he knocked down a trey to hand John Brown its first lead since the opening basket.
"It was a great experience being out there with my teammates tonight," said High. "I really didn't know (the Toilet Paper Game) was that crazy."
Despite the crowd urging JBU to take control of the contest, Hillsdale finished the first half by completing an 11-4 run that sent John Brown to the locker room trailing 30-26.
The first half was riddled with turnovers (17) as both teams looked to overcome the crowd and early-game jitters.
The Saints posted an impressive shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes, making 52 percent of its shots (13-of-25). Keeping the Golden Eagles in the contest was its control of the glass, out-rebounding the visitors by a 23-13 advantage, including nabbing 14 offensive rebounds. JBU's struggled at the three-point line, scoring on just 4-of-17 attempts (23.5 percent).
"I thought Hillsdale did a great job getting the ball inside and then playing from there," head coach Clark Sheehy noted of the Saint's hot first-half shooting. "There were many times in the first half where our defense wasn't in a terrible position, they just made a play.
"We needed to improve on keeping them from getting deep touches and that's how they were able to score so well."
In a reversal of fortunes, John Brown came out in the second half knocking down shots with ease, just as its counterpart had done in the first half. After giving up an early basket, the Golden Eagles finally began a streak of its own, tying the game at 34 after a pair of field goals from High and a two-point basket from Galliguez.
It was all JBU from that point as the host squad scored the nine of the next 10 points, opening up a 43-35 advantage. The Saints were unable to recover as the lead continued to balloon as a Kofi Josephs bucket at the 8:18 mark grew the lead to 14.
The lead widened to 19 as a pair of buckets from beyond the arc by High and Colin Hart and finished at a game-high 22 points after a pair of Hart free throws.
John Brown outscored Hillsdale 39-18 in the second half.
"I hope this is something that we can continue," Sheehy said of his team's depth and contributions from multiple players in the victory. "We need to continue and grow. Kent (High) hitting multiple shots after some of our guys struggled a bit tonight, that really helped. If we can develop that and defend better, that will be a huge strength of ours as the season continues."
The JBU bench outscored its opponent's bench (42-21), as nine players posted points in the victory.
John Brown held the advantage in the battle of the boards, out-rebounding the Saints 47-32, including an 18-10 advantage on the offensive glass. Max Hopfgartner's eight rebounds paced the Golden Eagle effort.
Joining High in double digit points was Hopfgartner's 12 on 6-of-12 shooting while freshman D'Shon Taylor poured in 11, an impressive start to his collegiate career.
Holding JBU back from a wider margin was its free throw shooting as the Golden Eagles were only able to sink 8-of-13 from the charity stripe.
John Brown will now travel to Conway, Ark. to face Central Baptist on Saturday (Nov. 3). Tip-off is slated for 4:00 p.m.