The John Carroll women’s basketball team trudged through difficult terrain last week and came up empty after two games against opponents near the top of the Ohio Athletic Conference standings.
Despite fantastic efforts from senior Lee Jennings and freshman Missy Spahar, the Blue Streaks league-worst scoring defense was exploited for a combined 183 points in the contests.
JCU entered the Jan. 26 game at the DeCarlo Varsity Center against No. 18 Mount Union on a three-game win streak. The Blue Streaks were able to get scoring from a variety of sources during the run.
Jennings and her former high school teammate, junior Emilee Ritchie, as well as freshmen Allison Lustig, Hilary Liwosz and Heidi Mervar all notched double figures at least once in the three conference wins.
The streak ended when Mount Union ruthlessly contained the secondary scoring. Aside from the trio of Jennings, Spahar, and Ritchie, JCU accrued just four points.
“It’s definitely a factor to have more contributors,” said Jennings. “We are best when we have everyone bringing something to the table.”
The stellar shooting of Mount Union only served to exacerbate the offensive futility.
As the first half drew to a close the Purple Raiders were cruising along by shooting 57.5 percent from the field compared to John Carroll’s 42.4 percent.
Kori Wiedt paced the Purple Raiders, who led by as many as 28 points in the second half, with 18 points and three rebounds.
The Blue Streaks were able to chip away at the lead, at one point shrinking the Mount advantage to 13, but the second half proved perfunctory, as the outcome never seemed to be in doubt.
The 94-79 loss obscured a 39 point effort on the part of Jennings, who also tallied 32 in the next game en route to being named OAC Player of the Week.
“I’m not a stat person,” Jennings said. “Of course I want to do well to try and help my team win, but that’s all. I want to win. That’s the bottom line.”
The Blue Streaks traveled to Ada, Ohio to face third place Ohio Northern University in the second meeting of the season between the two squads.
JCU managed a meager 44 points in the first go-round sans Jennings. Unlike the first meeting, the Blue Streaks stayed with their opponent basket for basket, with no team holding a lead of more than eight points in the first half. ONU owned a seven point lead at 45-38 going into halftime.
Ignited by the play of senior Jeanne Bockey, the Polar Bears gave little ground to the moribund Blue Streak defense. Bockey finished with 24 points and five assists.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive load was carried by Jennings (32 points), Spahar (17 points) and Lustig. The newcomer from Palo Alto, Calif. connected on five three-pointers to finish with 17 points.
While the lead by ONU was not insurmountable, JCU was once again unable to contain another high-powered offense and dropped the game, 89-79.
“We’re going to put up 70-plus points each night, but we need to bear down defensively,” Jennings said.