Women’s basketball loses at home to visiting Otterbein, 49-42

February 9th, 2012

The John Carroll women’s basketball team (7-13, 4-10 OAC) went 1-1 in last week’s play. With a 69-64 victory over Heidelberg last Wednesday night and a 49-42 loss to Otterbein Saturday, the Blue & Gold remain in a tie for seventh place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with only four games left to play in the regular season.

Up 15 with three minutes to play Wednesday night, the Blue Streaks overcame a 9-0 Heidelberg run in the final three minutes to land their fourth conference victory of the season. Sophomore point guard Allie Lustig along with senior guard Emilee Ritchie finished with 13 points. Freshman guard Beth Switzler added 12 points and 10 rebounds earning her a third double-double this season.

On Saturday against the third place Otterbein Cardinals, the Blue Streaks held the No. 2 ranked offense in the OAC to a season-low 49 points while holding two two-time All-OAC honorees to a combined 14 points. However, it was poor shooting by the Blue Streaks that led to their demise Saturday. The Blue & Gold shot only 23.4 percent from the floor, 15.2 percent in the first half.

“It really came down to making shots,” said Lustig. “We were taking good open shots, but they just weren’t falling for us.”

Lustig and the rest of the Blue Streaks, however, never let the poor shooting get to them as they fought valiantly to the end. Trailing 26-17 at halftime, the Cardinals would initially come out strong extending their lead to 43-27, a game-high 16, with 9:50 to remaining in the game.

The resilient Blue Streaks would then respond with strong defense, holding the Cardinals scoreless for nearly five minutes. Ritchie led the charge on defense with two steals and two blocked shots within that five-minute stretch, while sophomore forward Hilary Liwosz joined the block party with one of her own.

The Blue Streaks during that stingy defensive stretch reeled off a 10-0 run, cutting the Cardinal lead to six with 5:16 to play. A 3-pointer by Otterbein’s Hannah Day would neutralize the Blue Streaks’ run, putting her team back up by nine with just under five to play. Sophomore forward Missy Spahar responded with four Blue Streaks points in 48 seconds to pull the Blue & Gold to within five with 3:43 to play. Then, just like in the first half, shooting woes would reemerge and haunt John Carroll in the final 3:43 as the team went 0-4 from the field, allowing Otterbein to hold on for their ninth OAC victory of the season.

Despite the loss, Blue Streaks head coach Kristie Maravalli is very proud of her team’s resiliency and defensive pressure down the stretch, two characteristics that her team will need to possess come the OAC Tournament at the end of the month.

“We have been happy with our continued improvement on the defensive end,” said Maravalli. “The one intangible about this team is that we are resilient. Our players never give up and have the confidence that we can beat anybody.”

The Blue Streaks were paced by senior Emilee Ritchie with nine points and three second-half steals that sparked their 10-0 run with under 10 to play. Allie Lustig’s two assists in the ballgame move her into 11th all-time in John Carroll history for career assists, moving ahead of former teammate and 2011 JCU graduate, Sadie Zander.

With the regular season winding down, the Blue & Gold will travel down to Wilmington, Ohio this Saturday for a 3 p.m. battle with the Wilmington College Quakers (11-10, 6-8 OAC) in another contested Ohio Athletic Conference matchup.