Rise to the occasion.
That seems to be the message for the John Carroll University men's basketball team as it knocked off No. 3 Marietta 86-71 on Saturday afternoon inside the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center.
The win marked JCU's second over top 25 teams this year. The Blue Streaks previously beat then-No. 18 St. Norbert 80-70 back on December 30 in De Pere, Wisc.
"We've always thought we had a great group of guys out there," said assistant coach Frank O'Brien. "It's been a process of improvement. Every day the thing we talk about is getting better and I think we have. You can't beat a team of that caliber if you don't improve over the season.
The win moves John Carroll to 17-5, 13-3 OAC while Marietta falls to 21-2, 14-2 after having won its first 21 games of the season. Today marked John Carroll's first win over a top five team since topping then-No. 4 Wittenberg 75-68 in double overtime in the NCAA second round in 2005.
Sophomore David Linane led the way with a career-high 30 points. The point guard was on fire all afternoon finishing 10-for-15 from the field including 4-of-6 from behind the arc.
Said O'Brien, "David has a special talent. He can be a great, great player for us. He heated up today and he's going to get better too."
Junior Will Starks added 22 points. One game removed from scoring a career-best 25 points, the second platoon's leading scorer was at it again with 17 first half points.
"Will has the hot hand," said O'Brien. "We've been going with it and it has paid off especially these last two games with two key, quality OAC wins."
John Carroll's press played a big role in the win. Marietta oftentimes had trouble getting the ball inbounded, especially in the first half turning the ball over six times before midcourt in the opening 20 minutes.
Marietta jumped out to a 10-4 lead with 16:52 remaining in the opening stanza. John Carroll counted right back with a 5-0 run to make it a one point game with 15:37 remaining.
John Carroll took its first lead of the game at 14-12 with 14:24 remaining in the first half off of a Will Starks 3-pointer. The junior was just getting started.
One game removed from scoring a career-high 25 points, Starks would go on to add 17 in the first half aided by burying 5-of-6 3-point attempts.
Three minutes later, senior David Hendrickson would take over. The Saline, Mich. native scored five points and added a steal giving JCU a 23-19 with 10:54 left in the half.
John Carroll would not trail again.
The Blue Streaks led by as many as 13 in the first half. Two of the 13-point leads came from Linane who put the Blue Streaks up 45-32 with 3:53 remaining and 47-34 10 seconds later. Starks made it a 50-37 game with 2:23 left in the first half.
Marietta would close its game to five with an 8-0 run to close the half.
The Pioneers made it a 4-point game at 53-49 in the opening moments of the second half. Cirillo led JCU on a 7-0 run scoring the final five points pushing JCU's lead back to 11 at 60-49 with 15:05 remaining.
Marietta charged back with an 8-1 run cutting John Carroll's lead to four with 3:44 remaining.
Linane and Starks made sure that was as close as the Pioneers would come. The duo combined for nine of JCU's final 11 points to secure the win.
John Carroll hosts Mount Union at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18. Prior to the game the team will honor its two seniors Hendrickson and Jake Hollinger.