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It's tournament time for the JCU Men's Basketball team, who earned its first bid in the NCAA Division III Tournament bracket since 2018. The 2023 OAC Coach of the Year, Pete Moran ’08, led the Blue Streaks to a stellar 22-3 regular season record and the OAC regular season title. 


The team heads to Oswego State in Oswego, New York, for its first-round matchup against Albertus Magnus. The game is scheduled for Friday, March 3rd, at 3:15 p.m. If the Blue Streaks win their first round game, they'll face the winner of Oswego State vs. Marymount (Virginia) on Saturday evening at 5:45 p.m. 


This season has been a complete turnaround from last year's campaign; the 2021-22 team was 8 -16 and finished last in OAC standings. Many attribute this season's success to JCU landing eight transfer players in the off-season. 



Jerry "Gene" Higgins III '26G

Transfer Contributes to Team’s Success

Jerry "Gene" Higgins III is one of the transfers that has contributed to the Blue Streak's success this season. Higgins graduated from the Citadel – a military college in Charleston, South Carolina, but still has two years of eligibility remaining. He says he understands why some doubted the team's ability to compete at a high level this season. "With more than half the team being either freshmen or transfers, gluing as a unit was something that could come across as a potential issue to many outsiders," he says. Higgins says the team culture has helped players bond on and off the court. 


Everyone gets along with one another, and many of us spend a lot of time together off of the court. Inside the gym, we compete every day to make each other better. This has helped us win games because we have trust in everyone's ability on the court.

In the classroom, Higgins is pursuing a Master's Degree in John Carroll's Biology department. 

He says the JCU community has been exceptionally supportive in academic and athletic arenas. "The JCU community has been extremely welcoming," he says. "Trying to balance athletics, classes, research, and being a teacher assistant can be a lot for a single person, but many people at JCU have helped me maneuver through it!"



Chase Toppin '25

Sophomore Earns Larger Role in Second-Year

Chase Toppin is a sophomore and in his second season with the team. He's thrived in a more significant role on the team this year, starting 21 games this season, up from 8 last year. He says the atmosphere of the team has contributed to a winning season. "Our team culture is like a big family, all of us get along so well, and we know when it's time to get serious and to get focused in order for us to be where we want to be," he says. 


Toppin is working toward a Bachelor's in Sports Leadership at JCU. He says his experience as a student-athlete has helped him navigate what he wants to do within his major. "The biggest takeaway I have seen is seeing the time and effort all of the coaches put into this program,” he says. "I would love to go into coaching when my playing days are over; seeing the things they do on a daily basis has made me realize the sacrifices and the effort it takes to be a successful coach." 


One Game at a Time

The team’s strong bond and maturity are made clear by their goals for the NCAA Division III Tournament. Higgins realizes the importance of focusing on the task at hand. "Take everything one day at a time and one game at a time. March is a time full of upsets, so it is imperative not to look too far ahead. We must have our attention on what's in front of us at all times. As long as we continue to improve every day, whether that's mentally or physically, the rest will take care of itself, and we will be able to live with the results." 


The Blue Streaks face Albertus Magnus Friday, March 3rd, at 3:15 p.m you can stream the game here

WJCU 88.7 FM will broadcast the game live on air and on

For more information on JCU's Sports Leadership program, click here.