Mother nature pushed back the start of the John Carroll University vs. Ohio Northern University women’s basketball game to a 3 p.m. tipoff on Sunday afternoon.
In a physical game in which neither team led by more than seven points, the Polar Bears emerged with a 74-71 victory over the Blue Streaks in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, featuring nine lead changes and six ties. But in the end, stout ONU defense and some tough calls prevented the Blue and Gold from winning its third consecutive game.
The contest came down to a frantic final five minutes.
With 4:30 to play, senior forward Missy Spahar hit a three that tied the score at 59, but ONU forward Taylor Hermiller put home a layup in response to give ONU a two-point advantage.
The Polar Bears would never relinquish the lead.
With every JCU score, ONU had an answer. The Blue Streaks narrowed the deficit to one after freshman guard Katlyn Spahar, who finished with 12 points, sank a free throw with 37 seconds left.
A strong move in the paint on the other end by ONU’s Cenzie Yoder sent her to the line to try and put the game out of reach.
Yoder sank both free shots, putting the Polar Bears ahead 74-71, which was just enough for the win. Senior guard Allie Lustig could not extend the game with a last second three-point attempt.
The Polar Bears improved to 13-4 overall, 6-4 in the OAC. The Blue Streaks dropped their first game at home and dropped to 13-2 overall, still staying on top of the OAC with an 8-2 conference record.
JCU senior Missy Spahar led the Blue and Gold with 26 points and 10 boards, her ninth double-double of the season, before she fouled out in the final minute.
Looking forward, the Blue and Gold has an easier schedule ahead. The team will play squads for the second time this season where in previous matchups, JCU won.
But Katlyn Spahar is still looking to finish out strong.
“We still have a lot of basketball left and coming in halfway through the season, we have to maintain our focus and step it up,” Katlyn Spahar said. “Right now starts a whole new season for us and we have to play even harder and stronger the second time around.”
Now halfway through the season, head coach Kelly Morrone is still looking to make improvements, before heading into the OAC Tournament.
Editor’s Note: For stats and a recap of the JCU’s game at Muskingum University on Wednesday, check out jcusports.com.