Men’s Basketball Falls to JCU in Tight Road Contest

Monty Khela takes a jump shot during the Spartans' game against John Carroll

Despite shooting nearly 50% behind the three-point line, the Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team fell to John Carroll University 82-75 at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center in University Heights, Ohio on Wednesday night. The Spartans fall to 2-2 on the season, and the Blue Streaks improve to 3-0.

CWRU shot 48.1% from three-point range during the game, their best long-range shooting performance since the opening game of the 2018-19 season when they shot 48.3% against Albion. Defensively, the team held JCU to 22.2% from beyond the arc. 

Senior guard Monty Khela and junior guard Antonio Ionadi led the way with 18 points each. After missing the previous two games because of an injury, senior forward Michael Hollis led the team in rebounds (10), assists (6), steals (3), and blocks (2). JCU senior guard Ryan Berger led all scorers with 21 points. 

The Spartans started the game red-hot from the field, opening up a 20-9 lead just five minutes into the contest. CWRU began the game a perfect seven-for-seven on shots, including six from three-point range. Of those six three-pointers, Khela made three and Ionadi added two. The 11-point lead was the Spartans' largest advantage of the night.

Midway through the first half, the Spartans cooled off their torrid pace, and JCU used an 8-2 run to cut the deficit to just four, 26-22. Over the next three and a half minutes, neither team scored. Junior guard Ignas Masiulionis added two free throws to break the drought, but senior guard Sean Flannery knocked down a three-pointer for the Blue Streaks in response. Senior guard Jimmy Berger tied the game at 28 with 5:16 left in the half on a foul shot, and he finished an 8-0 run to give JCU the lead.

Following a timeout, sophomore forward Ryan Newton dunked to tie the score, but the Blue Streaks reclaimed the lead for the final time on the next possession and finished the half on a 7-3 run. Heading into the second half, Case Western Reserve trailed 41-34. 

Five minutes into the second half, the Blue Streaks had their first double-digit lead of the night, pushing ahead 52-42. A three-pointer from junior guard Michael Volkening sparked a 7-0 CWRU run that cut the deficit to just five. JCU rebuilt the lead to 11 midway through the half, 63-52. With just under nine minutes left, the Spartans went on a 10-2 run that included three-pointers from Ionadi and Masiulionis to drop the deficit to three.

The Blue Streaks would not let the Spartans cut the deficit any further, increasing it to nine, 73-64, just a few minutes later. A dunk from sophomore forward Solomon Wells made it a four-point game with under three minutes to play, 75-71. He added a layup to cut the deficit to three, 76-73, on the Spartans' next possession. However, that was the closest CWRU would get. With 38 seconds to play in the game, the Spartans committed a foul, and the Blue Streaks made both free throws to push the lead to five. The hosts then put the game away with more free throws to put the final score at 82-75. 

The Spartans will look to stop their short two-game losing streak against Kalamazoo College when they finish a stretch of three consecutive road games. CWRU will travel to in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday, November 23 for a 1 p.m. tipoff.