John Carroll stays undefeated at home with conference victory over Ohio Northern

BY: Joe McCarthy, Sports Editor

Junior forward Brian Papich (with the ball) aided the Blue Streaks’ efforts in the paint with five points. As a team, JCU scored 48 points in the paint in their victory over ONU. Photo courtesy of JCU Sports Information

Home has been sweet to John Carroll University men’s basketball.

The Blue Streaks entered Saturday, Feb. 11 with a 9–1 record in games played at home in the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center, which includes an 8–0 mark in Ohio Athletic Conference games played at home.

The Blue Streaks left with that perfect conference home record still intact, courtesy of their most recent victory over Ohio Northern University, 90–82.

John Carroll now stands just one game behind conference leader Marietta College with a 16–6 overall record and 13–3 spot in the conference, while Ohio Northern falls behind John Carroll into third place in the conference rankings.

The Blue and Gold had four different scorers in double figures in the conference clash with the Polar Bears. In just 23 minutes of work, senior guard David Linane led the way a game high 25 points, complimenting his three assists, four rebounds and two steals on the afternoon. Senior forward Simon Kucharewicz registered a double-double in the contest after grabbing 11 rebounds and scoring 18 points. John Carroll also enjoyed a strong offensive presence from the bench after senior forward Doug Caputo chipped in a solid 14 points after a five-for-five shooting performance in the first half. Junior guard Antonio Vuyancih added ten points and five rebounds in his assistance to secure victory for the Blue Streaks.

John Carroll led for all but 15 seconds in the entire game, thanks to a dominate performance in the low post and stellar play from the bench. The hosting Blue Streaks outscored the visiting Polar Bears 48–26 for points in the paint. John Carroll’s bench also outscored Ohio Northern’s bench 33–17 during the conference clash.

It would be all John Carroll to start.

The hosts started the game with a 9–0 run to take an early lead. Kucharewicz led the charge for the Blue Streaks in the early moments of the game, but Polar Bears roared back, scoring 10 unanswered points to take a slight advantage.

John Carroll would answer with a run of their own, after Kucharewicz and Linane spearheaded a 14–2 scoring onslaught that forced ONU to take a time out. John Carroll led 26–14 — a lead the hosts would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

With just over six minutes to play in the opening half, junior forward John Cirillo converted on a traditional three point play to give John Carroll a 36–23 lead. Linane then followed suit with three consecutive made three point field goals in the closing minutes of the half, helping John Carroll to a 51–35 advantage at the break.

Caputo was one offensive highlight for the Blue Streaks after the forward shot five for five in action from the bench in the first half.

The Blue and Gold picked up the second half with the same offensive intensity.

With just over 17 minutes to play in regulation, John Carroll opened up a 20 point lead to their largest margin of the game. It was a defensive rebound from Linane and coast-to-coast lay up that gave John Carroll the advantage and brought a capacity crowd at the DeCarlo Center to their feet.

Ohio Northern would offer some resistance to the Blue Streaks winning efforts. The visitors managed to cut the Blue Streaks’ lead to 12 points with just over 12 minutes to play, but Kucharewicz silenced all hopes of a come back with a rim rattling slam dunk.

The Blue and Gold would cruise to a 90–82 victory, earning the team their sixth consecutive win.

John Carroll now moves into second place in the conference rankings, just one game behind conference leader Marietta.

Despite a 1–4 start to the season, the Blue Streaks have roared back into one of the conference’s best squads. Adding to John Carroll’s impressive six game winning streak is the play since the start of 2017. In the new year alone, John Carroll has complied an 11–1 record.

Now the Blue Streaks will head into the final two games of the senior with opponents who rank below them in the conference. Although a spot in the OAC Tournament has already been secured and at least the quarterfinal game will be played at home. With two games remaining on the conference schedule, John Carroll has the ability to secure home court advantage throughout the tournament.

So far through the 2016–17 season, John Carroll has yet to lose a game at home.

The Blue and Gold will go on the road to Heidelberg University on Wednesday, Feb. 15 for their final road trip of the regular season. The home finale for the Blue Streaks will be a special one. John Carroll’s regular season and home finale against Capital University on Saturday, Feb. 18 will honor retiring head coach, Mike Moran.