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JCU heroics kick season off on winning note thanks to clutch play

November 20th, 2014

 

At the Nan Nichols Classic at the College of Wooster, the John Carroll University women’s basketball team came out in fantastic fashion. The Blue Streaks beat Kalamazoo College on Saturday, Nov. 15, 58-57, and defeated Adrian College 74-71 on Sunday, Nov. 16.

 

Just when JCU’s opponents thought they only had one more year to worry about a Spahar, another one arrived.

 

With the graduation of All-American Missy Spahar ‘14, the Blue and Gold needed a new identity. And while the team may still be trying to define it, one thing is clear: sophomore Katlyn Spahar and the returning upperclassmen are still hungry for wins.

 

Katlyn had a phenomenal freshman season, earning Ohio Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year honors, and she is poised to continue her dominance based on some late-game heroics in JCU’s first regular season wins of the season.

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With 13 seconds remaining against Kalamazoo, Katlyn sunk two free throws to put the Blue Streaks up, 58-57.  To top off her day, the sophomore hustled back to get a defensive stop and steal with two seconds remaining in the game.

 

“I just remember telling myself to keep focused and take deep breaths,” Katlyn said. “Playing without Missy was definitely one of the hardest parts of getting used to this year, but I know she is still my number one fan and wants me and the team to succeed.”

 

To go along with Spahar’s 19 points, the Blue Streaks saw three other players reach double figures.  Senior Beth Switzler recorded a double-double, grabbing a game-high 13 rebounds to go along with her 12 points. Senior Meghan Weber added 10 points, while junior Erin Mog chipped in 10 points to go along with four steals.

 

Katlyn Switzler and Weber carried their scoring into the second game against Adrian College.  Spahar finished the day with 23, Switzler with 16 and Weber recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

 

Spahar and senior Emily Taylor led the team out to a quick 8-2 lead against Adrian. The Bulldogs, fought back, however, and led the Blue Streaks by seven at the half.  It would be Adrian’s largest lead of the day.

 

Second year head coach Kelly Morrone in her second season lit a fire under her team under the second half, and JCU responded.

 

Switzler and Spahar exploded for 13 and 11 points, respectively.

 

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While the Blue Streaks came out on fire to begin the second, the Bulldogs continued to claw back.  Switzler extended the team’s lead to seven with 4:50 left to play, but Adrian whittled JCU’s lead down to one.  Weber and Switzler eventually split a pair of free throws to seal the game.

 

“Neither team could physically handle or outwork Beth or I in the post,” Weber said. “We were quicker, stronger and more athletic than either of the teams’ posts.”

 

Weber continued to praise her teammates for their performances this weekend, saying that finding an identity is still something they are working on, but a win is still something to be proud of.

 

“A win is a win, and it’s expected this early on in the season that ugly games are the norm,” Weber said.  “Both days we went into the locker room at halftime down, but we managed to fight back from the deficit both days and managed to win.”

 

Weber added, “We are beginning to find our identity as a team, and when we have everyone working in sync and are at our best, the conference better watch out because we are a dangerous team.”

 

Spahar was named the Nichols Classic MVP and OAC Player of the Week, and Switzler was named to the all-tournament team.

 

The Blue Streaks take the court again on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m. against Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.