Strong play late seals 74-72 win for John Carroll

By JOHN KEREZY, founder

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, JAN. 25 — A new team sits atop the Ohio Athletic Conference, the No. 8-ranked John Carroll Blue Streaks, and this one might stay there for a while. John Using a steal, hitting its free throws, and taking advantage of a late turnover, John Carroll claimed a 74-72 victory over No. 3-ranked Mount Union at the DeCarlo Varsity Center here Wednesday night.

The victory propels John Carroll to an OAC-best 10-1 record and a 16-2 overall mark. It also ends an eight-game winning streak that the Purple Raiders had against the home team. Mount Union is 16-2 today, but it drops to 9-2 in the conference.

Ahead 69-64 with 3:02 remaining in a fiercely-fought game, John Carroll bent but didn’t break at the finish. The Purple Raiders’ Collen Gurley gave the visitors a one-point advantage, 71-70, by hitting one of two free throws with eight seconds left in the contest.

John Carroll’s Luke Frazier responded by nailing two charity tosses at :03 to regain the lead at 72-71. An errant 40-foot inbounds pass from Mount Union turned the ball back over to the Blue Streaks, and Luke Chicone hit both free throws after being fouled to make it a 74-71 contest. Gurley then hit one of two free-throws with just one second remaining, but the home team grabbed the rebound on the second charity toss to seal the victory.

“The last three minutes … we really executed well. We had a steal, and hit all our free throws,” John Carroll Pete Moran said after the contest. “I saw how they (our team) wanted this. They played that way. This is a special group to be around.”

It was a contest that saw nine lead changes and 10 ties. Mount Union was up by as much as 11 points in the early going (22-11 at the 13:17 mark in the first half) due to a hot three-point shooter in Gurley. Hitting 5 of 5 from beyond the three-point arc, Gurley scored 20 of his game-high 24 points in the first half.

(Think college students don’t get excited about their teams? Watch this video clip from Wednesday night’s Mt. Union at John Carroll game and see how excited John Carroll students were at the game!)

John Carroll clawed back into the game thanks to Frazier and its bench. Led by Henry Raynor with 8 points and 9 rebounds in the first half, the home team’s bench players contributed 13 points and 11 rebounds in the first 20 minutes of the contest. Raynor put in more than 30 minutes on the floor, and finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Frazier topped the Blue Streaks with 22 points, and he had to earn them all. Frequently double-teamed anytime he had the ball, his points came on 8-for-23 shooting from the field and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

“This is the purest form of basketball at any level,” Moran added, pointing out how the athletes from both teams aren’t on scholarships or seeking endorsement deals or pro contracts. “We have the making of a great team, but both ball clubs are special.”

Mount Union Coach Mike Fuline concurred with his rival. “John Carroll played well tonight,” he said afterward. “Collen (Gurley) came out strong. We needed some more guys to carry us.”

The contest hinged on several aspects of play where – with a made free throw or better care of the basketball – the outcome would have changed. Mount Union was only 9-20 from the charity line and had five steals, half the number it made in its 75-72 victory against john Carroll on Dec. 7.

The Blue Streaks owned the boards, outrebounding the Purple Raiders 39-27. John Carroll scored 40 points in the paint and added 15 second-chance baskets off 15 offensive rebounds.

Both defenses pressured from the inbounds pass at many points of the contest, and the home team got eight steals to five for Mt. Union. John Carroll hit 17 of 23 free throws, 74%, including several key ones in the final minutes of the contest.

Christian Parker added 16 points and 8 rebounds for the visitors, and was the only other Mt. Union player in double figures. John Carroll’s Luka Eller had nine points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots in the victory.

All the men’s basketball teams in the Ohio Athletic Conference know that John Carroll is also a young squad. It started three sophomores and two juniors against Mount Union, and sophomores Raynor and Will Yontek also saw significant action. So, the new team atop the OAC might be there for a while. 

John Carroll travels to Capital for a game there Saturday night, while Mount Union visits Ada to clash with Ohio Northern Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a link to the statistics from the game:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s