18-point defecit means nothing, as John Carroll forces OT vs. Rival


JCU Sports Information

JCU Junior Ryan Berger (32) splits the Baldwin Wallace defenders & goes up for a layup in a game on Jan. 18. (JCU Sports Info)

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

Two messages rang the same all around the clock following the 89–85 loss of the John Carroll University men’s basketball team to the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets on Jan. 18. “Lackadaisical” was the term used by both senior Sean Flannery and sophomore Luke Hippler to describe the Blue Streaks’ first-half effort in which the team surrendered 48 points in 20 minutes to the Yellow Jackets.

“During the first half, shots were not falling and the defense was kind of lackadaisical at points,” Flannery told The Carroll News. Hippler added, “In the first half we were lackadaisical on offense. We could not get any buckets to go our way.”

The 121st matchup between the Streaks and the Jackets opened up as the usual fight. The teams traded scores, up until the 12:29 mark when Baldwin Wallace stung with a 10-point run. The wounds were not healed quickly as during the next six minutes; the Yellow Jackets closed out with an eight-point run. That run caused the Blue and Gold to find themselves with an 18-point deficit, the largest all night.

“We have had (over our last three-four games) a five- to six-minute time clock where we could not get stops or we could not score. We keep shooting ourselves in the foot and putting ourselves behind the eight ball early. We find ourselves playing catch up,” said head coach Pete Moran.

In the first half, the Blue Streaks shot 25 percent from the three and turned the ball over nine times — indeed, putting themselves behind the eight ball early on.

With 14:26 remaining in the second half, the Blue and Gold began one of their most important runs of the game. The Blue Streaks scored 10 consecutive points, cutting the deficit down to single digits for the first time in over 19 minutes.

Once the final three minutes of regulation rolled around, JCU flipped the switch. Led by Jimmy Berger and Flannery, the Blue Streaks went on an eight-point run, positioning themselves within one point of tying the ball game.

“Those two guys are gamers. They have played and competed at a high level. They are special talents,” said Moran on Berger’s and Flannery’s contributions to the run.

Berger was in charge of making the key play that put the game into overtime, driving to the basket and drawing an “and-one” foul. Berger made the free throw and the teams were tied at 78 piece with 1:06 remaining in regulation.

In the overtime period, Flannery scored six of the team’s eight points — unfortunately his effort was not enough.

“I thought Sean did a phenomenal job on [BW’s Jay] Battle in the second half and worked his tail off. There is no one in that gym that plays harder than Sean Flannery,” said Moran.

Hippler was essential to JCU’s remaining in the game, as the sophomore guard led all players with his 17 rebound and four block performance. Moran was enthusiastic about his performance saying, “The last two games he has played outstanding, and I hope that he continues that trend because we are going to need that.”

Because of Hippler’s performance, coach Moran told The Carroll News that Hippler has solidified himself as a starter. He contributed a career-high 22 points against Muskingum on Jan. 18, as JCU topped the Fighting Muskies 103–88. In that game,he Blue Streaks snapped their four-game skid, and are now back on track after beating the Muskies.

John Carroll’s next game will be the biggest of the season, against Mount Union on Jan. 23 at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.