The nationally ranked John Carroll University women’s basketball team was off to another historic undefeated start, joining the WBCA/USA Today Top 25 after a win against Ithaca College. However, Ohio Northern University was looking to play the spoiler as the Blue Streaks headed into Ada on Saturday.
Spoil they did, as JCU could not hold on, and headed back to University Heights with a 73-70 loss. This was JCU’s first loss of the 2014-2015 season. The last Ohio Athletic Conference loss for JCU came from the Polar Bears in the OAC Tournament last season.
Offensively, sophomore Katlyn Spahar led the Blue Streaks with 16 points. Sophomore Katie Battaglia also had a career-high 15 points in just 14 minutes of play. Nine of those points came courtesy of Battaglia’s trio of 3-pointers.
“My mentality with every game is to get the win,” Battaglia said. “I got the shots that I did because we executed the plays very well for me to get open and take those three’s.”
All three seniors – Meghan Weber, Beth Switzler and Emily Taylor – continued their offensive leadership, each contributing 10 points.
Despite having five players scoring double figures, JCU struggled with the perpetual thorn in its side, All-OAC senior Jordan Kimes. She led all players with 18 points, including the late field goal that gave the Polar Bears a definitive lead.
The Blue Streaks went into halftime with a 33-30 lead and two Battaglia treys under their belts.
After the halftime break, the teams continued to trade points until ONU tied the game at 42 on a 3-pointer.
Spahar and Taylor came down the floor to sink consecutive shots for JCU, capped off by a Battaglia three to put JCU up by seven, 49-42.
ONU’s defensive effort picked up, however. The Polar Bears held JCU at 56 points and narrowed the JCU’s lead to one point with 5:36 remaining after a jumper from junior Carly Thomas.
ONU gained its first advantage since the first half at 59-58. However, freshman Shmoo Pryor would storm down the court to score and put JCU back up by one.
JCU struggled to hang on to its lead as the Polar Bears continued to test the burgeoning Blue Streak defense. With 1:01 remaining on the clock, Kimes hit a jumper that would put ONU up, 67-66. The Polar Bears would not relinquish the lead for the final 60 seconds of play.
Switzler and Battaglia each contributed two more jumpers for the Blue Streaks, but a series of necessary fouls to slow down the clock gave the Polar Bears some key free throws in the final minute.
Kimes and sophomore Britt Lauck each contributed key free throws, spoiling JCU’s undefeated record.
Spahar and head coach Kelly Morrone stressed that the loss will only motivate the Blue Streaks to continue improving throughout the year.
“We are going to keep working harder knowing the pressure that we have,” Spahar said. “This year we have a big red ‘X’ on our back and we just gotta improve day-to-day, practice to practice, and focus on the big picture.”
“I think there’s no doubt that people know we’re a very, very good team, so we’re always going to get somebody’s best,” Morrone said.
JCU now stands at 6-1 overall and 1-1 in OAC play. The Blue Streaks will look to rebound with a win on the road against Wilmington College’s Fightin’ Quakers on Saturday, Dec. 13. The Quakers are currently 6-0 on the season.