Young talent pushes JCU Women’s Basketball to victory in OAC opener against Muskingum


JCU Sports Information Department

Jaylen Hoffman ’23 lines up at the foul line to take two against Muskingum on Saturday.

Leah Harrigan, Staff Reporter

The John Carroll Women’s Basketball team proved that an underdog mentality might be the catalyst for a dominant series of success. 

On Sat., Dec. 3, the Blue Streaks hosted Muskingum University in an Ohio Athletic Conference matchup that marked each squad’s first bout of league play. In a game full of unprecedented events, the Blue and Gold ended up victorious, fending off the Fighting Muskies by a score of 62-59. 

The win pushed John Carroll to a commendable 4-1 record with novel combinations of players contributing to the team’s triumph. 

In the opening quarter, Kaelyn Underwood ‘23 showcased her veteran experience under the boards, making room for intense offensive surges for the Blue Streaks. Jaylen Hoffman ‘23 also displayed her athleticism on defense, making it difficult for Muskingum to settle on offense.

In the second quarter, John Carroll was able to increase the scoring deficit as the Streaks entered the locker room at the half with 40 points in comparison to Muskingum’s 28. 

The third quarter proved to be a test of perseverance for both teams. John Carroll was able to put up 13 points in the third quarter, despite the absence of Underwood and Hoffman who left the court due to injury.

To offset the detrimental loss of senior leadership on the court, underclassmen were forced to keep the environment and speed of play composed yet efficient. 

Maddie Pietrowski ‘25 fulfilled a pivotal role at the guard position. Pietrowksi tallied 32 minutes of gritty play, adding eight points to the box score. Carmen Heuker ‘26 capitalized on her defensive skills with 35 minutes of aggressive pressure.

Carmen Heuker ’26 pulls up against Muskingum on Saturday. (JCU Sports Information Department)

Ava Ryncarz ‘26 was a stand-out player in the game as the hybrid guard-forward marked her territory on the court with 15 points and seven rebounds. 

Against a whirlwind of adversity, embodied by a young squad with little OAC experience, the Blue Streaks ultimately defied all odds.

A back-and-forth second half had onlookers questioning which team would emerge victorious. At the start of the final slot of play, the score stood at 53-44 with John Carroll in the lead.

But, the Fighting Muskies were prepared to live up to the connotation of their name. Muskingum was prepared to battle to the very end of the game, regardless of score.

The rush of momentum transcended Muskingum to an offensive grasp that left John Carroll on their toes. But, the Blue and Gold would go on to win by a score of 62-59 in a commendable, collected fashion.

John Carroll hopes to add to the victory column in another conference matchup against Mount Union on Wed., Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. The Blue Streaks are hosting the Purple Raiders at the Tony Decarlo Varsity Center.