It took all 40 minutes to determine a winner in the Sooner Athletic Conference opener at the Claremore Expo Tuesday night.
For the second time in as many games Rogers State turned to senior guard Aldric Reynolds with the game on the line. And just like he did against Northeastern State last Thursday night, Reynolds delivered.
With the game tied at 69-69, John Brown put Reynolds on the free throw line with six seconds remaining. The Houston native calmly sank both free throws to give RSU a 71-69 advantage. The Golden Eagles made a mad dash to the other end of the floor, but Jarrett McGriff’s open look under the basket clanked off the side of the rim at the buzzer and the Hillcats held on for the win.
It was junior guard Eric Young who refused to let the Hillcats lose in the second half. He tallied a career-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting and also hauled in seven rebounds. Young scored 11 points in a stretch of 97 seconds in the middle of the second half to keep the game from slipping away from RSU.
The Cats led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but couldn’t put the Golden Eagles away. Thomas Galliguez drilled a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to put JBU right back in the thick of the game at 31-27. The Eagles grabbed the lead early in the second half and the contest remained nip and tuck the rest of the way.
Sophomore Chris Francis broke a 58-58 tie with a trey at the 6:06 mark and Roderick Rodgers extended the lead to four with a steal and a layup two minutes later. Galliguez came through with another big 3-pointer for JBU to make it 67-66 RSU with 2:17 left.
McGriff knotted things up at 69-69 when he buried two free throws with 30 seconds showing on the scoreboard. RSU was content to hold for the last shot before Reynolds was fouled on the perimeter and sank the game-winning points at the free throw line.
Reynolds finished with 11 points while Rodgers added 15 points and a game-high eight rebounds. The Hillcats held a 35-25 advantage on the boards and forced 25 turnovers. Those numbers allowed RSU to overcome a strong shooting performance from the visitors. JBU hit 6-of-11 attempts from 3-point range and finished the night 53 percent from the floor. DaVaughn Jackson led four Eagles players in double figures with 15 points.
No. 20 Rogers State (4-0, 1-0) picked up its first conference win and will hit the road this weekend for the Trip Sports San Antonio Shootout in. The Hillcats will play Northwestern Ohio Friday at 2 p.m. and Bellevue University (Bellevue, Neb.) Sunday at 4 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on www.tripsports.com for a small fee.