John Carroll secures tournament berth with win over ONU


JCU Sports Information

Freshman Emmett Chambers (33) looks to make a pass in a game against Ohio Northern on Feb. 9 at JCU.

Max Argento, Staff Reporter

The quick flashes of brilliance seen throughout stretches of the season for the Blue Streaks men’s basketball team made themselves known again, this time against the Polar Bears of Ohio Northern University on Saturday, Feb. 9. The Blue and Gold, who would clinch a playoff berth with a victory, made rather quick work of the visitors, who did not have enough firepower to overcome the JCU’s impressive shooting performance.

The 90-71 result in favor of the Blue Streaks came with several outstanding performances, namely from junior guard Ryan Berger, who scored a game high 22 points, going 8-13 from the field and 5-8 from three-point range. His brother Jimmy Berger also contributed in a huge way, scoring 15 points, hauling in seven rebounds and chipping in three assists in an all-action performance. Senior All-American Ryan Bruns of ONU continued his amazing season for the Polar Bears, scoring 25 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, good for the 24th double-double of his storied career.

The victory comes off the back of a disappointing loss at the hands of the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets last Wednesday, Feb. 6, where the defensive issues that have plagued the Streaks all year reared their ugly heads once again. The Yellow Jackets scored 50 points in a first half that was substantially delayed due to an equipment issue during team warmups. Their 54 percent shooting percentage from the field was too much for a Blue Streak team that could not get enough stops to mount any sort of substantial threat to the home team.

Even in the loss, the Bergers each supplied 18 points, showing their intent down the stretch to affect games by consistently scoring the ball. Ryan Berger has continued to look stronger and more confident, coming off an injury that kept him out of the first half of the season, while Jimmy has flourished since his brother’s return, continuing to score the ball with ease, as well as protect the rim on the defensive side of the floor.

With the hard work of clinching a playoff berth out of the way, all eyes now point toward gaining some serious momentum moving into the postseason. Relatively favorable matchups in the form of Otterbein (on the road) and Wilmington University (at home) provide the opportunity for coach Pete Moran’s men to catch a groove.

With that comes the hope that players like sophomores Jackson Sartain and Luke Hippler continue their stellar play down the stretch. Sartain has been outstanding from beyond the three-point arc all season, his near 90 three-pointers made already this season vaulting him to fourth all-time in program history for made three-point field goals — and he’s only a sophomore.

Hippler has become a mainstay in the John Carroll lineup, providing 9.0 points and 5.6 rebounds a game. Even more impressive is the fact that Hippler often guards the opponent’s best forward on the floor at all times. Both players will be called on to continue to make plays for their team if the Blue Streaks’ hopes of making a run into deep March are at all serious.  

With the ability to push the pace of play and shoot the three ball with the best teams in the OAC, the Blue Streaks should be granted the opportunity to defend their OAC title, but this time as the role of dangerous underdogs. It’s up to the Blue Streaks to take care of business as the regular season concludes, where the chance to start things all over with a 0-0 record will be a welcome sight.
The Blue Streaks travel to Westerville, Ohio, to take on the Otterbein Cardinals on Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.

The hard work of clinching a playoff berth is out of the way, all eyes now point toward gaining some serious momentum moving into the postseason.