After a tumultuous offseason, the John Carroll University women’s basketball program entered the 2013-14 season with a laundry list of questions that needed to be answered.
What style would new head coach Kelly Morrone bring to the team? Would the veterans on the roster buy in to her message?
The Blue Streaks answered the call, and brought home the first Ohio Athletic Conference title in program history, rewriting the record book along the way.
The team surprised pundits by starting off the year with 11 straight wins, including a Dec. 7 victory over then-nationally ranked Ohio Northern University.
Two losses to Baldwin Wallace University and a late-season home loss to Ohio Northern were the only blemishes on a 21-3 regular season record. JCU finished 15-3 in OAC play as well, earning a share of the conference title with Baldwin Wallace.
After sitting on the sidelines for a week before their first OAC Tournament game, the Blue Streaks fell at home to Ohio Northern for the second time, 80-71, on Feb. 27.
Despite that loss in the OAC Tournament semifinals, JCU earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
On March 7, JCU earned a wire-to-wire victory over Texas Lutheran University in the NCAA first round in Crestview Hills, Ky. Senior Missy Spahar scored 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Blue Streaks dominated the Bulldogs.
The next night, the Blue Streaks ran into the top-ranked team in the country, host Thomas More College. Led by the nation’s leading scorer, Sydney Moss, the Saints ended JCU’s season with a 120-86 win.
Despite the disappointment of a second round loss, seniors Allie Lustig and Spahar were pleased with the way their JCU careers ended.
“We deserved to be there and it felt even better when we won our first game,” Lustig said. “We treated it like any other game, and we finished with the same intensity.”
“Everyone in the OAC doubted us from the beginning but we proved them wrong,” Spahar said. “I am very sad that I am done with basketball here at JCU, but I am so happy that I left my mark here at JCU.”
The veteran duo climbed the rungs of many scoring and defensive statistical categories in their final season.
Spahar finished the season tied for the third-highest points per game average in program history with 25.2. The total was the most in program history and the highest average in conference history since statistics were first recorded in 1984-85.
The forward also set program records for points (1,901), field goals (724), rebounds (912), games played (107) and average minutes (34.0).
Lustig ended her career with the best three-point shooting percentage in program history, hitting 37.4 percent of her shots.
She also finished second in three-point field goals (168), second in assists (463) and sixth in steals (188).
Morrone was ecstatic with the effort of her veterans on the roster.
“What a special year with an amazing group of people,” Morrone said. “The achievements of this team and its individuals are just incredible. I can’t say enough great things about the caliber of person that each player is. Our staff spoke often about how lucky we were to work with such a willing group and how much fun they were throughout the whole year.”
Despite losing two all-conference players,the Blue Streaks have young talent waiting for 2014-15.
Junior Beth Switzler will lead JCU onto the floor after recording 11.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Freshman Katlyn Spahar will help fill her sister’s shoes after being named the OAC Freshman of the Year on the heels of 13.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Lustig summed up the season through the accomplishment of one goal.
“We wanted to lead this team to an OAC title,” said Lustig. “We got more than what we asked for.”