CRESTVIEW HILLS, Ky. -- It was a wire-to-wire win for John Carroll in its first appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament, but it was hardly routine.
Behind an 18-point, 10-assist double-double from Allie Lustig and a game-high 20 points from fellow senior Missy Spahar, the Blue Streaks prevailed against Texas Lutheran 74-62 in a first round game held at the Connor Center on the campus of Thomas More.
John Carroll advances to play either Thomas More on Saturday in a second round game.
For the John Carroll program, which was making its first appearance in NCAA postseason play, the key was managing the moment.
"We treated this like just another road game," Lustig said. "We prepared the same, warmed up the same, we just did everything the same, and it worked out for us."
John Carroll held a 13-8 lead after the first four minutes of play, then used an Emily Taylor 3-pointer to kick start a 9-2 run that gave the Blue Streaks their first double digit lead.
But Texas Lutheran found a way to cut into the lead. On three occasions, the Bulldogs reduced their deficit to three points in the opening half, the last of which was on a Bianca Casas jumper at the 5:57 mark to make the score 29-26.
The Blue Streaks responded by closing out the half on a 13-4 run, capped by a Lustig three-pointer to give John Carroll a 42-30 lead at intermission.
JCU opened the second half much the way they ended the first, and moved its advantage out to 17 points. When Beth Switzler dropped in a lay-up with 9:01 showing on the second half clock, the Blue Streaks led 61-44.
Just as they did in the first half, the Bulldogs tightened up a JCU double-digit lead. Fueled by three consecutive field goals by Kristen Lye, Texas Lutheran uncorked an 18-7 run during the next six minutes to pull to within 68-62.
It was during a timeout that both coaches and players realized the same thing.
Morrone concurred with that assessment.
During the final three minutes, John Carroll held Texas Lutheran off the scoreboard and scored the final six points – two on an Emily Taylor lay-up and four on free throws by Lustig.
Lustig got her 18 points on 5-8 shooting, including 4-7 from three-point range, and was 4-4 from the free throw line.
Missy Spahar added her own double-double with 20 points and ten rebounds, and also dished out six assists.
Taylor and Katlyn Spahar each chalked up 14 points as JCU shot 44.3 percent from the floor (27-61) as compared to Texas Lutheran's 37.3 (25-67).
The rebounding battle ended up even at 39-39.
Texas Lutheran, whose season ended at 23-6, was led by 17 points from Taylor Dydalewicz. Savannah Hight added 15 and Lye scored 14 – eight in the second half.