Behind 'double-doubles' from graduate student forward Kara Hageman and senior guard/forward Hillary Hellmann, the Spartans defeated John Carroll University 79-65 in their home opener at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio on Sunday afternoon.
The Spartans improved to 4-0 on the year, marking just the second time in program history that the team has opened a season with four-consecutive wins. The team's start to the campaign is the second-best ever by a Spartan squad, behind only the 2001-02 team, which went 6-0 to begin the season.
John Carroll dropped to 2-2 on the year with the loss.
The Spartans were dominant on the glass in the game, out-rebounding the Blue Streaks 51-33 in the contest, including a 34-17 edge in defensive rebounds. CWRU shot 43.6% from the floor (25-of-55) in the game, including 38.9% (seven-of-18) from three-point range.
Hageman led the Spartans with 18 points and 12 rebounds to notch her second double-double of the season, shooting seven-of-14 from the floor and adding two assists and a pair of steals. Hellmann finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds to tally her second double-double of the year as well, and blocking a pair of shots in the effort. Freshman guard Alyssa Hyland scored 13 points on Sunday, connecting on three of her four three-point attempts, and junior guard Kendall McConico finished the day with 12 points and five rebounds.
Three pointers by Hageman and McConico led the Spartans to an 8-0 run to start the game, and the team would lead by as many as 14 points after a layup by McConico with 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter put CWRU in front 23-9. The Blue Streaks closed the gap to 12 points, 24-12, by the end of the opening period. The Spartans grabbed their largest lead of the game with 6:39 remaining in the half, when a layup by Hageman extended their advantage to 30-14. However, the Blue Streaks ended the second period on a 17-1 run, outscoring CWRU 19-7 in the second quarter overall, and tying the game at 31-31 heading into the halftime break.
Hageman paced the Spartans' attack in the opening half, scoring 13 points and adding eight rebounds, while McConico scored 10 on four-of-six shooting from the floor during the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Blue Steaks grabbed their first lead of the game with back-to-back baskets to start the third quarter, but could not grow their lead larger than four points in the period. Trailing by two, 46-44, with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, Hyland knocked down a three to give the Spartans the lead back. After a layup by Kahrin Spear put John Carroll back ahead by a point, sophomore guard Emily Todd hit a three to end the third quarter and give CWRU a 50-48 lead, and then opened the fourth period with another three-pointer, extending the Spartans' lead to 53-48. CWRU would never trail again in the game, taking a double-digit lead, 71-60, on a pair of free throws by sophomore forward Emma Cain with 1:43 to play, and leading by as many as 14 points down the stretch.
The Spartans bench helped fuel the team's strong finish, scoring 21 points in the second half of the game, after scoring just four points in the opening half. Hyland collected nine of her 13 points in the second half alone, which Todd and Cain each registered six points during the final 20 minutes of the game.
Leslie Aguilar led the Blue Streaks with 13 points off the bench and Nicole Heffington added 12 points in the game.
The Spartans will continue their three-game home stand on Wednesday, November 28th, when CWRU plays host to Ohio Northern University at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.