Second Half Effort Ignites JCU Men's Basketball To First Round NCAA Win Over Thomas More

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After a sluggish first half, John Carroll erupted for 57 second half points to turn a close game into a 95-72 victory over Thomas More in an NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament first round match-up at the Tony DeCarlo Varsity Center Friday night.

The Blue Streaks got 19 points from Ryan Berger, 18 from John Cirillo and 15 from Jackson Sartain as John Carroll improved to 11-2 all-time in NCAA tournament home games.

It was not a wire-to-wire win, but once John Carroll took a 22-20 lead on a Sartain three ball with 7:53 left to play in the opening half, the Blue Streaks would not relinquish their advantage. In fact, the home squad led by as many as 11 point before taking a 38-30 lead into the locker room.

A quick 8-2 burst by John Carroll to open the half led to a 14-point advantage, but the Saints responded by scoring 18 of the next 26 points. Fueled by eight points from Damion King, Thomas More quickly cut John Carroll's lead to 54-50 with 12:29 to play.

From that juncture, it would be all John Carroll. The Blue Streaks scored 41 points over the final 12:08 while holding the Saints to 22.

JCU (24-5) shot 19-35 (.543) from the field, 10-20 (.500) from three-point range, and 9-12 (.750) from the free throw line in the pivotal second half while committing only two turnovers and forcing ten from the Saints. Sean Flannery had a team-high seven assists for the Blue Streaks, who are now 14-0 at home this year.

Thomas More (23-6)  had four players reach double figures, led by Ryne Callahan and Simon Clifford with 13, King with 12 and Michael Griffin with 11.

John Carroll will host the College of Wooster (22-6) in a second round match-up on Saturday, March 3, with tip-off set for 7:00 p.m.