JCU Men’s Basketball earns first win of the season after two-week hiatus

Mason Trubisky leaps forward for a layup in a game against Baldwin Wallace on Feb. 5, 2021, at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.

JCU Sports Information

Mason Trubisky leaps forward for a layup in a game against Baldwin Wallace on Feb. 5, 2021, at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.

Ashley McCall, Staff Reporter

During an already reduced season, losing two weeks of practices and games due to COVID-19 issues can hit a team hard. 

The John Carroll Men’s Basketball team played their first game on Jan. 22 against the Heidelberg Student Princes before being shut down due to COVID-19, which led to the eventual cancelation of three consecutive games. 

After this brief pause, the Blue and Gold returned ready for battle against the Baldwin Wallace Yellow Jackets on Feb. 5 in University Heights, defeating their crosstown rivals 69-66. 

Freshman Drew Wennes from Baldwin Wallace instantly became a threat against John Carroll after he drained his first three-point shot of the night only 30 seconds into the match-up. Wennes finished with a game-high 21 points.

The Blue Streaks worked to get into a rhythm on offense when senior Luke Hippler hit a jump shot from within the paint, putting the first points up on the board for John Carroll. Hippler returned on defense to block a Yellow Jacket shot attempt, which regained possession for the Blue and Gold.

JCU three-point record holder, senior Jackson Sartain, started his scoring campaign for the night with a shot from behind the arc, putting John Carroll ahead of Baldwin Wallace 7-5. 

Neither team held the lead for long, as any made shot was answered on the opposite end of the court almost immediately. 

Toward the end of the first half, the Blue Streaks pulled away, leading by nine points, before Jake Synder extinguished the fire with a three-point bucket. John Carroll remained ahead 37-34 going into halftime, foreshadowing the down-to-the-wire game about to transpire.

Continuing to swap leads in the second half, the game had evolved to a three-point contest, as Baldwin Wallace and John Carroll took 41 and 21 three-point shots, respectively. That became the key to the Blue and Gold’s victory.

Senior Jackson Sartain became automatic from the three-point line, ending the game 66.7% from behind the arc, adding to his team-high 19 total points. Sophomore Eric Hanna chipped in two three’s of his own, contributing to his 10 points for the night. 

As the well-matched opponents fought to the end, Baldwin Wallace’s Shane Zalba had the opportunity to tie the game with six seconds left but missed his three-point attempt to the relief of John Carroll. 

With the victory over the Yellow Jackets, the Blue Streaks earned their first win of the 2020-21 season. 

Contributing to the triumph was Hippler’s 15 points, two steals and six rebounds. Hanna and junior Hugh Brown totaled seven rebounds apiece.

“[Sartain] stepped up tonight and the guys were able to find him,” said John Carroll Head Coach Pete Moran. “We challenged him to be more physical in getting the ball. If he is open, we want to give him the ball.”

The following day, the Blue and Gold traveled to Berea for their double-header rematch against the Yellow Jackets where they fell 78-90, dropping their record to 1-2. 

“We will go one day at a time,” stated Moran. “Our hope is to be playing our best basketball in three weeks when the OAC tournament starts.”

The Blue Streaks will look to bounce back as they take on Ohio Northern in a double-header series on Feb. 12 and 13.