Slow start hurts men's basketball

(Abbey McKee / Heidelberg Athletics)
(Abbey McKee / Heidelberg Athletics)

TIFFIN -- The tempo was fast, the gym was loud. But in the end, the Heidelberg University men's basketball team couldn't catch up with the John Carroll Blue Streaks. The Student Princes lost, 88-75, in front of a boisterous home crowd.

Heidelberg dropped to 10-14 overall and 6-11 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. John Carroll -- receiving votes in the Top 25 -- improved to 17-6 overall and 14-3 in conference.

Despite the loss, the Student Princes have secured a spot in next week's eight-team OAC Tournament. The Tricolor will be on the road Tuesday in the opening round. Their opponent has not been determined.

The Student Princes had four players finish in double figures, led by Kiere Bennie's 19 point-effort. Alex Arellano had a career-high 14 points while Mike Mason and DeAvery Collins each added 10 points. Bennie tallied nine rebounds.

Berg turnovers allowed John Carroll to jump out to an early 14-4 lead. Heidelberg committed seven turnovers in the first five minutes.

Cold shooting by the home team over the first ten minutes (25%) compared to JCU's 46% from the floor helped the visitors push their lead to 23-8 midway through the first half.

"We didn't show up for the first ten minutes tonight and that hurt us," said head coach Andy Bucheit. "When we played like we're capable of playing, we stayed pretty even with them."

With 8:21 remaining in the first half, Kiere Bennie cut the John Carroll lead to 27-16. Bennie tipped in a CJ Marshall miss, before following up the next possession with a triple from the top of the arc.

The Blue Streaks recovered after the small HU run and took a 45-32 lead into the half.

Junior Mike Mason cut the deficit to 53-42 with a three-point play early in the second half. John Carroll's Antonio Vuyancih silenced the HU momentum with a triple from the wing at the other end.

With just over 13 minutes to play, Bennie banked a long three from the top of the arc, cutting the score to 63-55. At the other end, Mason broke up a fast break attempt and crashed into the John Carroll bench, bringing the Seiberling Gymnasium crowd to life.

After a defensive stop, DeAvery Collins -- the lone senior on the HU roster -- brought the score to 63-58 with a 3-pointer from the corner.

The Blue Streaks answered back, putting together an 8-0 run for a 71-58 lead with nine minutes to play.

Bennie once again cut the JCU lead to seven points with 7:19 remaining. Bennie's 3-pointer received a friendly bounce from the rim, cutting the score to 73-64. On the John Carroll inbound, the HU defense forced the turnover and Bennie was fouled on the steal. In the bonus, Bennie sank both free throws moving the score to 73-66.

David Linane's stepback 3-pointer with 6:33 remaining gave John Carroll a ten-point advantage. Collins responded right away at the other end with a triple from the wing.

With the Blue Streak lead down to eight points, Linane pushed the score to 84-73 with another triple -- this time from the wing. The shot gave JCU a comfortable lead and the momentum for the remainder of the game.

John Carroll scored 24 points off of 20 Student Prince turnovers.

Heidelberg committed 25 fouls in the game compared to JCU's 13. The 25 fouls allowed the visitors to go 22-30 from the charity stripe. HU only attempted 11 free throws.

The Blue Streaks scored 14 fast break points. JCU's full court pressure eliminated the fast break game for Heidelberg, as they did not score on a fast break.

Bucheit on moving forward: "We have the talent and the potential on this team ... When we show up for 40 minutes we are a dangerous team."

Jockeying for seeding in the OAC Tournament, Heidelberg will host Muskingum (13-11, 7-10 OAC) on Saturday for Senior Day. Tip off is scheduled for 2 p.m.