Coming into Saturday’s contest, the Marietta College men’s basketball team sat atop the Ohio Athletic Conference. With only three conference games remaining, John Carroll University needed a key win over the Pioneers. Behind sophomore David Linane’s career-high 30 points, JCU would get just that.
Linane led JCU to a 86-71 win over No. 3 Marietta in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center. According to the JCU Sports Information Department, this is the first win for JCU men’s basketball over a top five team since 2005, when JCU beat Wittenberg University, 75-68, during the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Linane was 10-of-15 from the field, including four three-pointers. Junior Will Starks chipped in 22 of his own as part of head coach Mike Moran’s second platoon. Seventeen of Starks’ 22 points were in the first half. Starks has now scored a combined 47 points in his last two games.
At the beginning of the game, the Pioneers proved why they were the No. 3 team in the country, jumping out to a quick 10-4 lead in just over three minutes of play.
Linane and Starks then caught fire, each hitting two 3-pointers as JCU went on a run of its own, eventually knotting the score at 14 with 14:02 remaining in the first half.
Starks added four more three’s in the first half alone. Senior David Hendrickson also played a critical role in the first half, as he got five quick points for the Blue Streaks through an and-one bucket and a quick layup. JCU went up by four points, 23-19, with 10:54 left in the first half, and would not trail for the rest of the game.
JCU began to extend its lead as the half progressed, reaching a double-digit advantage on a jumper from senior Jake Hollinger, setting the score at 43-32. A fast break layup from Linane extended the lead to 13, showing how dominant JCU’s press defense could be. The Pioneers turned the ball over six times in the first half alone.
Despite the adversity, however, Marietta responded with an 8-0 run. The Blue Streaks would still go into the locker room at halftime with a five-point lead, 50-45.
Linane wasted no time coming out of the break, draining a three to begin the half, extending JCU’s lead back to eight.
Marietta soon cut the lead to four. However, a quick five points from freshman John Cirillo pushed the Blue Streaks to an 11-point advantage with 15:05 remaining.
With time ticking away, the Pioneers tried some late-game heroics. A series of free throws and fast breaks cut the Blue Streak lead to four, but Linane did not let them get any closer, scoring eight of JCU’s last 11 points.
After the game, Linane spoke about just how important this game was for the Blue Streaks.
“I think this win shows people that this program is capable of beating anyone at anytime.”
Linane continued, “It really says a lot about our coaches because they are the ones who prepare us for the games and they have put a lot of time into doing so. All [us players] have to do is go out there and execute.”
JCU is now 17-5, 13-3 in the OAC, and remain one game behind both Marietta and Mount Union in the race for the regular season conference championship.
Editor’s Note: The John Carroll University men’s basketball team returned to action on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center against Mount Union. Head over to jcusports.com for a full game recap and box score.