With the first conference title in program history in their sights, every remaining game for the John Carroll University women’s basketball team is vital.
On Saturday, Feb. 9, the Blue Streaks struck a blow against Capital University, a major Ohio Athletic Conference rival. Senior Missy Spahar scored 18 points and racked up 12 rebounds as the Blue Streaks prevailed over the Capital Crusaders, 80-64, in Bexley, Ohio.
The win was the third consecutive for JCU (17-2, 11-2 OAC) against Capital (13-7, 10-4 OAC) in the renewed rivalry, and just the 10th for the Blue Streaks in the series’ history.
The two teams entered the game battling for control of the OAC. As one of three teams within shouting distance of the Blue Streaks, the Crusaders’ atmosphere was intense in the Capital Center.
The Blue Streaks roared out to a 20-7 lead to start the first half. After a JCU timeout at the 9:13 mark, the Crusaders regrouped. Capital finished off the half on a 14-6 run, hitting four straight shots to cut the lead to just four, 30-26, at intermission.
JCU once again took its opponent by storm out of the break, putting together a 16-6 stretch that took the air out of the Crusaders. Junior Emily Taylor dropped five points and three assists in the first few minutes, pacing a Blue Streaks attack that took a 14-point lead with 14:10 remaining.
Taylor would finish with 12 points and four assists. Freshman Katlyn Spahar had a strong afternoon as well, ending the day with 12 points and contributing three assists of her own. The leading scorer for the Crusaders was freshman Simonne Gage, who scored 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting.
Capital cut the lead to just seven with 11:41 left, off five straight points by junior Jamie Caton. The forward had seven points, but she and her teammates were unable to stop Missy Spahar in the post. The second-leading scorer in all of Division III was active in the paint, getting to the free throw line six times and hitting all of them.
A physical Blue Streaks offensive attack then knocked the Crusaders out, ripping off a final 18-7 run that put the game out of reach. Gage and fellow freshman Kristen Thompson both fouled out late, stunting any chance Capital had to come back.
The rivalry reared its head late in the game, as Gage was assessed a foul, then she and Taylor were called for technical fouls after the play.
The Blue Streaks finished shooting only 43.1 percent from the floor, but dominated on defense, keeping Capital to 31.7 percent on 20-of-63 shooting. JCU got back on track on the boards, outrebounding the Crusaders, 46-37.
The win puts the Blue Streaks in the driver’s seat going forward in the OAC.
Editor’s Note: Wednesday’s game against Baldwin Wallace University at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center was pivotal for the Blue Streaks. Check jcusports.com to see how they did on Wednesday and where they stand in the quest for the first championship in program history.