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John Carroll men's basketball wins at Marietta

Jan. 13—As weeks in a college basketball season go, this one has to rank fairly high for the John Carroll men's basketball team.

On Jan. 10, Coach Pete Moran's team hammered No. 12-ranked Mount Union, 96-61.

Then on Jan. 13, the No. 8-ranked Blue Streaks traveled to Marietta — one of the toughest places for the opposition in the Ohio Athletic Conference — and posted an 81-71 victory.

"Very successful weekend," said Moran. "Any time you win on the road, it's huge. We knew this would be a tough stretch. We shot the ball well early on. Marietta came out in a zone, and we were prepared for it."

JCU improved to 14-1 and 8-0 in the OAC. Marietta is 11-4 and 5-3 in the OAC. The Blue Streaks have a two-game lead on the rest of the conference.

"The intensity they came out with was great," said Moran. "We challenge them to come out every game with energy and get stops. If we could bottle up how we played vs. Mount and today for the rest of the season, we'll be OK."

A huge run in the final five minutes of the first half was the difference.

Marietta's Eric Chapman made a jump with 5 minutes, 52 seconds until halftime to cut into JCU's lead at 26-23. The visitors then went on a 22-5 run to close the first half and led, 48-28, heading into the break.

Jerry Higgins (VASJ) started the run with a driving layup to make it 28-23. Then Mentor's Luke Chicone (22 points, seven assists, two steals) and Chase Toppin (20 points, five rebounds, four assists) started to cook.

Chicone made a 3-pointer for a 31-23 advantage before Toppin added two of his own and a 3-point play for a 44-28 lead with 35 seconds left in the first half. Another Chicone 3-pointer with 3 seconds on the clock made it a 48-28 game at the break.

"We came out of a timeout with 3 minutes before halftime and I said, 'Let's finish strong,' " said Moran. "I thought that was very important."

Chicone and Toppin were on target from long distance. They were a combined 9 of 18 from 3-point range — Chicone 5 of 10 and Toppin 4 of 8.

Luke Fraizer (Lake Catholic and Henry Raynor were the other Blue Streaks players in double-figure scoring. Frazier had 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks, and Raynor had 10 points, five boards and two blocks.

It was a rare game for JCU on the boards, as Marietta won the rebounding battle, 42-40. Lake Catholic's Luke Eller (nine) and Will Yontek (eight) were JCU's top rebounders.

"Luka Eller continues to be our unsung hero," said Moran. "His defense, his ability to screen has been huge. He's just a very smart basketball player."

Even though the Pioneers made more 3s (12 to 10), the Blue Streaks made up for that by shooting 50 percent from the field (32 of 64). On the other end, Marietta just 34.8 shooting from the floor (23 of 66).

JCU's biggest lead of the game was 21 points at 59-38 with 13 minutes to play.

Marietta fought back to make it 71-67 with 2 minutes to play but a Chicone 3-pointer and a Toppin layup pushed the lead back to nine.

The Blue Streaks' next game is Jan. 17 at home against Otterbein. Tip-off is 7 p.m.

THE SCORE

John Carroll 81, Marietta 71