The John Carroll women’s basketball team tipped off Ohio Athletic Conference play this week, splitting a pair with Baldwin-Wallace College and Muskingum College.
First, JCU suffered a tough 75-61 loss to the B-W Yellow Jackets in what was also the Blue Streaks home opener.
B-W, a team that features a number of freshman, jumped out to an early 15-4 lead to start the game which JCU could not overcome – although they were close.
The Blue Streaks cut the deficit to two in the first half when junior guard Lee Jennings converted on a pair of free throws.
However, the Yellow Jackets responded with a 9-4 run to finish off the half.
It seemed as though their momentum carried over into the second half as B-W got out to a quick start, expanding their lead to double digits in the opening minutes.
Senior guard Whitney Hamilton responded with a three-pointer and Jennings followed with five quick points to cut the deficit back to two points, but JCU could never get over the hump.
“We fought hard all game, but just couldn’t get the defensive stop when we needed it,” said junior guard Sadie Zander.
Aside from a handful of quick runs that widened the gap, the Yellow Jackets outrebounded John Carroll 45-30 and had 17 offensive rebounds.
“When you lose the battle on the boards the way we did, it’s tough to try and sneak a win out,” said senior forward Caitlin Sureck.
JCU was led by Jennings who finished with a game-high 26 points to go along with eight assists. Sureck chipped in 16 points and was the only other Blue Streak in double figures.
The Blue Streaks came into Saturday’s contest at Muskingum looking for a much needed win to even out their conference record.
“That game was important for us because we couldn’t fall to 0-2 to start out conference play. We all knew we had to win this game,” said assistant coach Jeff Camp.
This time, the Blue Streaks got a defensive stop when they needed it most. It was a two-point game with under a minute to play, and then Jennings made a play that exemplified JCU’s defense all afternoon.
Jennings stripped the ball from a Muskingum player with six seconds remaining in the game, and then calmly knocked down two free throws to extend the lead to four, which would ultimately be the final margin.
This defensive stop didn’t look like it would be necessary, as a Hamilton three-pointer gave JCU a double-digit lead with under four minutes left.
Even though they allowed the Muskies to go on an 8-0 run, JCU was determined to stand tall and not surrender the lead, something they did just once in the whole game – and that came early in the first half.
Jennings scored a career-high 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for JCU as they snapped their four game losing skid and improved to 2-4 overall with a conference record of 1-1.
Zander and Hamilton each chipped in 10 points and junior Katie Knox pulled down a career-high 15 rebounds to help the Blue Streaks win the rebound battle, 48-43.