John Carroll vs. Mount Union men's basketball: Blue Streaks roll in battle of top 15 teams

Jan. 10—Coach Pete Moran was hoping to celebrate his team's big win Jan. 10 with a stop through the drive-thru at Burger King.

"Hopefully it's open and I can get a Whopper," he said.

Sounds about right on this night for the John Carroll men's basketball team.

A whopper of a win is the only way to describe the Blue Streaks' 96-61 win over Mount Union in an anticipated battle of top 15 teams in Division III. It was the largest margin of victory in the 101-game history of the series.

Early on, a buzzsaw cut through the Purple Raiders at JCU's DeCarlo Center. By halftime, all that remained was pile of purple saw dust.

That's because the Blue Streaks put on a first-half display for the ages that led to a lopsided win likely no one saw coming. Not when at the tip it featured the No. 8 team in D-III (JCU) against the No. 12 in America (Mount Union). The teams were a combined 24-2 combined entering the game.

"I was kind of speechless after the game talking to the guys," said Moran. "These guys have really taken a step forward with the physicality they play with."

Even though JCU students were still on holiday break, a full house was in attendance.

"Kudos to the fans," said JCU's Chase Toppin. "They brought the juice."

Ten minutes in, it was 31-14. By halftime, it was all Blue Streaks, 58-25. A combination of high energy, stifling defense and pin-point 3-point shooting buried the Purple Raiders by halftime.

Jerry Higgins with the finish and @JCUMensHoops leads Mount 66-29@jcusports @NHPreps #d3hoops

— Mark Podolski (@mpodo) January 11, 2024

"It was really just game plan and personnel," said point guard Luke Chicone of Mentor. "We executed well."

Said Moran: "I think ultimately those first 10 minutes set the tone for the rest of the game."

The lopsided victory improved JCU to 13-1 on the season, and 7-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. Mount fell to 12-2 and 5-2 in the OAC.

Off the opening tip @luke_frazier5 @JCUMensHoops @jcusports photo by @TCPPhotoCLE

— Mark Podolski (@mpodo) January 11, 2024

The opening tip-off — just like everything else during the first 20 minutes — went JCU's way as Lake Catholic grad Luke Frazier (18 first-half points) took a pass and threw down a dunk.

Then Chicone got hot from long range as he made 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Toppin found open lanes off the fast break on his way to 15 first-half points.

The trio of Chicone, Toppin and Frazier was 8 of 14 from beyond the arc in the first half.

"It was fun and the crowd was super into it," said Frazier about the first half. "Everyone was smiling and laughing. It was a great time."

Meanwhile, the defense brought energy and intensity — factors that limited the Purple Raiders to just 10 of 36 shooting (27.8 percent) in the first half and 3 of 14 from 3-point range.

The rebounding battle was a huge mismatch by half as JCU won the boards, 31-14 — including 23 defensive. For the game, it was 51-38 in favor of the home team. Five Blue Streaks had at least four rebounds in the first 20 minutes.

The second half was a far cry from the Mount-JCU game in University Heights a season ago. That game was a 74-72 Blue Streaks victory that was back-and-forth with tension throughout. The second half Jan. 10 was nothing more than playing out the final 20 minutes with no drama.

At one point in the second half, the lead was 47 points at 76-29.

Toppin finished as JCU's leading scorer with 21 points and had six rebounds. Chicone had 17 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Jerry Higgins (VASJ) added 10 points and five rebounds.

When asked if the win over Mount was a statement game, Frazier simply said, "The job isn't finished. Job isn't finished."

On this night, the job was finished in the first 20 minutes.