John Brown (28-6) advanced to face Georgetown (Ky.) in today’s second round.
The Golden Eagles held a comfortable 37-27 halftime lead before Life (19-13) made a comeback. The Running Eagles, who dropped their sixth straight first-round contest, had a chance to win with less than 10 seconds remaining. LaTarrance Carter got an open 3-point look from the left corner, but his shot fell short just before the horn.
Things didn’t start off well for John Brown, which trailed 6-0 in the early going. Abel Galliguez’s jumper at the 18-minute mark got the Golden Eagles on the board.
Life controlled the pace and still led 8-6 with 15 minutes left, but from there, the Running Eagles went just 6-for-25 (.240) from the field and went into the locker room down by 10.
“They’re a good team, and we kept giving them chances to stay in it,” John Brown coach Clark Sheehy said. “But give them credit, they’re much better than their record, and they threw at us the toughest press we’ve seen all season.”
The deficit for Life grew to 13 on three occasions, with the last coming at 45-32 with 16:51 left in the game. But that’s when Barrington Ferguson went to work for Life.
The former Marietta High School standout had nine of his career-high 17 points in the second half, and his fast-break dunk at the 8:26 mark tied the score at 52-52.
Teammate Mike Robertson’s spinning layup with just over a minute to go capped off a 34-20 run and handed Life its final lead at 66-65.
McWoods then connected on his two free throws to end Life’s season.
Life coach John Barrett wasn’t surprised the game came down to the last shot.
“You can either hit the shot or not hit the shot, and this time we didn’t hit it,” he said. “I’m really proud of the way we battled to the end.”
John Brown’s trio of guards — in the form of McWoods, Coleson Rakestraw and Kofi Josephs — was too much for Life. McWoods came off the bench to net a game-high 18 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Rakestraw and Josephs each finished with 15 points.
Life got 11 bench points from Robertson and nine points and 11 rebounds from Stefan Pope.