By: Ryan Gasser, sports information director
UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – The nationally-ranked Capital University men's basketball team lost in an 88-69 decision against the John Carroll University Blue Streaks inside the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders struggled to find a rhythm throughout the game while John Carroll's inside game propelled the hosts to victory.
Contrary to their first meeting earlier this season, both teams struggled from the outside and quickly adjusted to work the painted area. This strategy turned out to favor the Blue Streaks (9-11, 5-8 OAC) in this contest given that they outscored the Crusaders in the paint, 42-24.
From the beginning, both teams pushed the tempo and made strong attacks toward the basket. Through the opening 10 minutes, neither team shot well from behind the arc with both combining to hit just one of eight attempts. Capital turned in six turnovers which turned into four JCU points, and the Blue Streaks also shot nearly 15 percent better from the field while taking six more shot attempts. Those factors led to an early seven-point lead near the midway point of the first half, 19-12.
Turnovers and tight defense impacted both teams and created a lot of start-and-stop action at The DeCarlo Center. For more than two minutes neither team scored before the Blue Streaks broke up the scoreboard silence with a tough bucket following what was the fourth offensive foul of the first half on Cap. Following their 10th of 11 turnovers in the half, the Crusaders came back to hit back-to-back baskets on a turnaround jumper by senior Austin Schreck (Erlanger, Ky./Dixie Heights) followed by Gavin Wildermuth's layup on the fast break following a JCU missed 3-pointer. That cut the Blue Streaks' lead to five, 23-18, with 5:10 remaining.
John Carroll nearly took a double-digit lead into the locker room at halftime but a 5-0 rally by the Crusaders kept it to a two-possession game. Joey Weingartner hit a corner 3 and following a miss on the other end, the Crusaders pushed it back up the floor so that senior Caleb Cox could lay in a buzzer-beating basket to make the score 36-30 at the break.
Despite taking better care of the ball in the second half, the shooting percentages continued to favor the Blue Streaks. The Crusaders had an offensive drought which lasted four minutes in the second half which let JCU go on an 8-0 run, increasing its lead to 14 points, 56-42.
The never-say-die Crusaders came back with eight unanswered points when Schreck kicked off the rally with a driving layup, followed by 3-pointers from junior Dan Auble (Brecksville, Ohio/Brecksville) and senior Joey Weingartner (Centerville, Ohio/Centerville). That cut the lead to six, 56-50, with 10:28 to go in the game.
However, the Blue Streaks were quick to retaliate with another 8-0 run fueled by Jimmy Berger's 3-pointer at the halfway point. Up 13 points with nine minutes to play, the Blue Streaks went basket-for-basket with Cap. Eventually, the Crusaders turned to its 3-point game but was unable to get it going. Cap missed its last seven 3-point tries of the night while JCU continued to score and build its lead as high as 19 points.
Cap finished with a team shooting mark of 36.7 percent from the field, including 7-for-31 from 3-point range. While JCU was not stellar from behind the arc it was efficient inside, shooting 48.4 percent (30-62) from the field. Cap had a total of 16 turnovers, 11 in the first half, leading to 13 JCU points.
Will Hannah (Milford, Ohio/Milford) shared the game scoring lead after putting up 19 points, 14 of those in the second half. He shots 6-for-11 and added seven rebounds. Four of Cap's five starters wound up in double figures, but only had 13 points come off the bench. Schreck finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Weingarter's final line accounts for 12 points, while Cox put together his ninth double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Blue Streaks were led by Jimmy and Ryan Berger. The twin duo finished with 19 points each. Jimmy Berger also dished out seven assists and brought down nine rebounds. Ten of his 19 points came from the charity stripe. John Carroll also had four of its five starters finish in double figures and only had 12 points contributed from its bench players.
After playing on short rest, No. 19 Capital (17-4, 12-2) will break ready itself for a Wednesday night home contest against Heidelberg University. The Crusaders look for payback after the Student Princes handed them their first conference loss of the season in Tiffin, 63-62, on a last-second shot. Wednesday's game will be played at The Capital Center with tipoff taking place at 7 p.m.
Capital is now tied with Marietta College for first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference standings with both teams possessing a 12-2 conference record with four regular season games to play.