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JCU braves blizzard, but freezes against Capital

February 9th, 2013

Late season road trips are usually difficult enough for basketball teams.

Introduce a blizzard and a home team with momentum into the mix, and the circumstances change considerably.

Freshman Danny Wallack scored 16 points, but it was not enough, as the John Carroll men’s basketball team fell to Capital University (15-6, 12-2 OAC), 82-61, in Bexley on Saturday afternoon.

The team was later than usual in arriving to The Capital Center due to heavy snowfall on the trip to Bexley. Wallack was perfect from behind the arc (5-of-5) and was aided by 16 points from Kyle Hubbard and 12 from David Hendrickson.

Capital forward Spencer Niekamp led all scorers with 27 points and was perfect from the floor (11-of-11), including 5-of-5 from 3-point range.

After a long ride to Columbus through a snowstorm, the Blue Streaks came out with their worst first-half performance of the season. Niekamp scored eight of the first 10 Crusader points, forcing a John Carroll timeout at 16:53.

Things would get worse for the Blue Streaks, as they did not record their first field goal until David Hendrickson hit a 3-pointer just over seven minutes into the game. By that time, Capital held a 22-4 lead and had the full force of a rapid fan base behind them.

The Crusaders led by as many as 28 in the first half, as the Blue Streaks were unable to find any momentum. With 5:20 remaining, John Carroll trailed 37-9. Two 3-pointers by Wallack headlined a 13-5 run that gave the Blue Streaks some life going into the half.

Wallack led the Blue Streaks with nine points in the first half, and Hubbard was able to hit five of six shots from the line. Niekamp would score 18 points and have the fans at The Capital Center in a frenzy when the teams went to the locker room.

Unlike their counterparts, the Blue Streaks did not hit the floor for warm-ups at half time until just before the second half began. Whatever the coaching staff said in the locker room lit a fire under the team, as the Blue Streaks started on an 11-4 run.

“When we got to the locker room, we talked as a team about the good things we have done this year,” said Wallack. “The main thing that hurt us early on in the first half was a lack of hustle.”

The hot streak quickly wore off, though. Capital would pull away slowly, leading by more than 20 points for the majority the second half. The result was a foregone conclusion for much of the half, leading both teams to empty their benches.

Wallack reflected on his place and impact on the youthful team, as well as the growth of the program over the course of the season.

“The team has been very supportive,” Wallack remarked. “But I am never satisfied and want to keep improving as an individual and as a team.”

The young Blue Streaks entered the contest tied for fourth place in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The loss drops John Carroll to 10-10 overall and 7-7 in the OAC. The team will hope to get back on the winning track at home on Wednesday night, when Baldwin Wallace visits at 7 p.m.

Editor’s Note: For results, box scores, game stories and more from last night’s game against Baldwin Wallace, please go to www.jcusports.com.