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Cardiac Comeback: Jimmies defeat Golden Eagles from 17 down

Jamestown's Sam Johnson gets some pressure from Minnesota Crookston's Chase Knickerbocker Tuesday during action at Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun1 / 2
Jamestown's Ben Weisbeck reaches to the basket over Minnesota Crookston's Ben Juhl Tuesday during action at Newman Arena. John M. Steiner / The Sun2 / 2

Sam Johnson is shooting the ball when the Jimmies need a big bucket, and the senior forward has been money.

Johnson's fourth 3-pointer of the second half Tuesday came with 90 seconds left and buried visiting Minnesota Crookston at Harold Newman Arena. It handed the University of Jamestown an 86-83 lead after a wild 23-5 run by the Jimmies earlier in the half erased a 17-point deficit, and Jamestown hung on to beat the NCAA Division II Golden Eagles 87-85.

Johnson buried six treys in Bismarck a week ago Monday, helping the Jimmies cruise past University of Mary 86-76 in exhibition play.

"It's one of those times where I'm shooting the ball well as a whole right now," Johnson said, after finishing with 15 points on 5 of 8 shots from downtown against Minnesota Crookston. "And, they tell me to keep shooting. My teammates are doing all the hard work getting me the ball, and I'm just standing there shooting it."

The Jimmies didn't look so hot in the first half. Golden Eagles sophomore Harrison Cleary, the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference freshman of the year last season, broke loose for 22 of his game-high 36 points.

The Jimmies also struggled on the boards, as they did for most of the night. The Golden Eagles led 51-42 at the break and outrebounded the Jims 39-26 in the game, 12-3 on the offensive glass.

"We got in the locker room and we got yelled at ... and deservedly so," Johnson said. "We came out flat; we didn't get stops. We buckled down and got stops in the second half and that was the key."

Cleary and Alan Hodge teamed up for a trio of 3-pointers early in the second 20 minutes, helping the visitors balloon the advantage to 66-49 in the first 5 minutes. But the Jimmies never quit.

Kevin Oberweiser hit two treys, and Johnson and Jon Purintun also connected from downtown, helping Jamestown put together a 23-5 run to take a 72-71 lead with 6 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game.

Oberweiser and Purintun each scored 10 points after the break, and 6-foot-6 Jimmie freshman Brady Birch came off the bench and scored 12—eight after the half—to help the Jimmies to the victory.

"We just grinded it out. I thought Brady Birch had some great minutes for us," Jamestown coach Danny Neville said. "Coming off the bench and defending the ball screen. But our guards just never gave up; credit them.

"Our guys have heart," Neville added. "Play one possession at a time, get some stops and we can win the ballgame, and we did."

The Jimmies' Leighton Sampson scored 16 points but his struggles at the free-throw line continued. The 6-6 senior went 0-for-3 from the foul line and is 13 of 34 from the stripe on the year.

The Golden Eagles dropped to 2-3 on the season. Minnesota Crookston played to a record of 8-21 last year, with one of those wins being a 73-69 victory over the Jimmies.

"We need leadership," Minnesota Crookston coach Dan Weisse said. "We talk about getting three stops in a row and (Jamestown) just attacked the lane and we let them. I don't know if it's anything they did, I think it's a loss of focus on our side and immaturity."

Jamestown (7-2) embarks on a four-game road trip starting with a pair of contests in Arizona this weekend. The Jimmies play at Arizona Christian Friday and (RV) Benedictine University-Mesa on Saturday.

Jamestown 87, Minnesota Crookston 85

MC 51 34 -- 85

UJ 42 45 -- 87

MC—Harrison Cleary 36, Chase Knickerbocker 13, Ben Juhl 11, Alan Hodge 11, Javier Nicolau 10, Galbe Smith 4. Totals: 31-63 FG, 14-18 FT, 9-16 3-pointers (Hodge 3, Cleary 2, Juhl 2, Knickerbocker 2), 39 Rebounds (Cleary 8), 16 Fouls (Cleary), 8 Assists, 12 Turnovers, 4 blocks (Smith 4), 5 Steals (Smith 2).

UJ—Leighton Sampson 16, Kevin Oberweiser 16, Sam Johnson 15, Jon Purintun 14, Brady Birch 12, Ben Weisbeck 4, Jack Talley 6, Isaiah Dobson 4. Totals: 35-62 FG, 4-11 FT, 13-25 3-pointers (Johnson 5, Oberweiser 4, Purintun 2, Talley, Dobson), 26 Rebounds (Purintun 5), 18 Fouls (Purintun), 20 Assists (3 with 5), 8 Turnovers, 1 Block (Birch), 6 Steals (Oberweiser 3).

Records: Jamestown 7-2, Minnesota Crookston 2-3.

Michael Savaloja

Hometown: Churchs Ferry, N.D.; College: North Dakota

A recipient of the NDHSCA Award of Merit, Savaloja has been reporting sports for The Sun since 2008.

Follow on Twitter: @MichaelSavaloja

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