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Women’s hoops off to good start before dropping conference opener

December 9th, 2010

The John Carroll University women’s basketball team had a tiring road swing last week that took them to stops in Meadville, Pa. and Columbus, Ohio. 

The Blue Streaks entered the trip with a 3-1 record as they looked to improve the mark with wins against Allegheny College and Capital University. 

Alas, a victory would only come against the non-conference foe and leave the Blue Streaks 0-1 to start Ohio Athletic Conference competition.

Senior Lee Jennings paced the Blue Streaks on Dec. 1 against Allegheny with 23 points and eight rebounds. 

The play of Jennings was contagious among a young, talented squad that boasts 12 freshmen. In all, five players were able to notch double-digit points en route to an 88-82 victory to push the Blue Streaks record to a sizzling 4-1 in the early portion of their non-conference schedule. 

The beginning of the Allegheny game was marked by six ties and three lead changes before freshman Allison Lustig nailed a three pointer at the 9:19 mark of the first half to spark a 24-15 run for the Blue Streaks. 

They would enter the half leading by the score of 42-33. The Blue Streaks built a 50-33 lead at the beginning of the second half that proved to be a very important cushion as Allegheny crawled back into the contest to pull within four points in the last minute. 

A final bucket from freshman Missy Spahar with 35 seconds left in the game sealed the victory for the Blue Streaks. 

Spahar finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for her second double-double in as many games.

With little time to celebrate the victory, the team then traveled to Columbus on Saturday to square off against conference foe Capital University, a team they have had minimal success against this decade. 

After the Blue Streaks were able to create a 15-12 lead, Capital charged back on a 14-3 run capped by a Rebekah Will jump shot with 6:51 left in the first half to put the Crusaders up by a score of 29-18. 

The Blue Streaks were able to mount a bit of an offensive spurt to close out the half and pull to within seven points at 39-32 heading into the intermission. 

John Carroll lacked consistency in the second half.

Untimely turnovers, poor shooting and passive rebounding contributed to the demise. 

The Blue Streaks shot just 32 percent from the field in the second half as they dropped their first conference game by a score of 75-60. 

“We didn’t play well enough. We had 18 turnovers and we gave up too many offensive rebounds,” said coach Kristie Maravalli. “Any opportunity we had to make those couple stops, we could never make that run to close the gap.” 

For the third time this year, junior transfer Emilee Ritchie led the squad in scoring. She dropped 16 points and knocked down four of her 10 three-point attempts.

“I think we came out strong and played hard, but we have a lot to learn,” Ritchie said. “Capital is a good test. They are respected in the conference. I feel like we need to come together defensively and take care of the boards better if we want to become a better team.”

So far this season, JCU has been outrebounded by their opponent by an average of five rebounds per game. They finished ninth in rebounding margin a season ago, and that team had Caitlin Sureck, who was known as one of the better rebounders in the conference.

That’s something they’ll need to correct as they go forward, especially in a conference that has as many good teams as the Ohio Athletic Conference.

They’ll have a chance to start correcting their mistakes on Saturday when they host the Ohio Northern University Polar Bears at 2 p.m. in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.

Last year, the Polar Bears won both meetings between the two schools – both by a 15-point margin.