The Blue Streaks finished the regular season at 19-5 overall, 15-3 in Ohio Athletic Conference play. The last time the men’s program recorded a 19-win season was in 2010-2011 season.
The Blue Streaks were led by a balanced scoring effort from junior Will Starks and senior David Hendrickson, who scored 17 and 16 points, respectively. Sophomore David Linane chipped in 12 points, and sophomore Doug Caputo also reached double digits with 10 points.
“Our depth and versatility as a team does make it difficult for teams to defend us,” Starks said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who are capable scoring threats and on any night someone can get it going in our system. It’s definitely a big advantage for us.”
JCU started off strong against Muskingum, jumping out to a 16-0 lead over the Fighting Muskies in less than four minutes, capped off by a 3-pointer from freshman Tony Vuyancih. Starks followed a minute later with a three of his own.
In the first seven minutes of the game, Muskingum scored just nine points. However, after a series of quick layups by the Muskies and a key 3-pointer, JCU’s lead was cut to 11 with 11 minutes left to play in the first half.
A layup by senior Jake Hollinger extended the lead back out to 13. The Fighting Muskies cut the lead to 11 once again with 9:12 left in the half, but that would be the closest they would get to JCU for the rest of the afternoon.
Junior Ryan Farragher hit three consecutive jump shots for the Blue Streaks, pushing them out to a 15-point lead. Hendrickson and Hollinger further extended that lead to 19 after a 3-pointer and a layup. Hollinger also contributed a dunk in the final minutes, as the Blue Streaks entered the locker room with a 15-point lead, 51-36.
JCU struck first after the break on a Linane layup. All of Linane’s 12 points came in the second half.
The sophomore scored the first eight points of the second half for JCU after two free throws and two layups gave the Blue Streaks a 20-point lead. Caputo then added four quick points behind Linane, stretching the lead to 22.
With 12:50 remaining, Muskingum cut JCU’s lead to 16, but the first platoon extended it back to 20 after two Linane free throws and a Hendrickson layup.
The second platoon then entered and went on an 8-0 run, two fast break layups by Vuyancih, gave JCU the 26-point advantage. The largest lead for JCU would be 27 as the Blue Streaks would eventually close it out with the 101-79 win heading into the OAC Tournament.
In their opening match of the OAC Tournament JCU faced off against Heidelberg University.
After a hot start from the Student Princes, the Blue Streaks regained control and held the lead for the rest of the first half, heading into the break with a 36-28.
Heidelberg put up a strong fight in the second half, never allowing JCU to pull away, but the Blue Streaks kept their distance and came away with the 75-66 victory at the end of the night. The victory will send JCU to their second consecutive OAC Tournament semifinal, as the Blue Streaks fell in the OAC Tournament final to Wilmington College last year, 69-63.
Editor’s Note: The Blue Streaks return to the court on Thursday night at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center to play in the Semifinal round of the Ohio Athletic Tournament against the University of Mount Union. Head to jcusports.com for a full box score and game recap.