The stumbling block to Heidelberg's win hopes was plain to see on the stat sheet, but coach Anthony Gholson knew it all too well after watching it occur.
The Student Princes committed only three more turnovers (21) and made just one less 3-pointer (4) than John Carroll, while taking seven more shots from the field (62) and making four more (28) than the Blue Streaks.
And while turnovers topping 20 is a concern, Gholson's biggest worry came from the least-defended shot on the court in what ended as an 84-77 Ohio Athletic Conference loss.
"Our Achilles' heel is hopefully things we can control: turn the ball over and free throw shooting. You can't miss 18 free throws and win this game. If we just go 70 percent from the free throw line, we win this game. They made 30 free throws. They shot 38 free throws, we shot 35. That's the difference in the game, right there," Gholson said. "If we shoot 70 percent, we win that basketball game.
"It's concentration," he said. "That's all it is, is concentration."
The 70 percent adds up to an extra seven foul shot makes, good enough to push Heidelberg's point total past John Carroll by one had they been made. The Student Princes (4-2, 0-1 OAC) could have especially used that in the second half, ending just 9 of 19 at the line in final 20 minutes while watching a halftime lead disappear and never return.
John Carroll 83,
JCU (3-2, 1-0): Ryan Angers 0-11-11; William Starks 2-0-4; Kyle Hubbard 7-9-23; David Hendrickson 5-4-15; Kenny Janz 1-0-2; Danny Wallack 5-3-16; Kyle Pisco 0-2-2; Talib Booker 0-0-0; Michael Whalen 0-0-0; Ryan Farragher 1-1-4; Jordan Murphy 2-0-4; Simon Kucharewicz 0-0-0; Kyle Morris 0-0-0; Jake Hollinger 1-0-2
Heidelberg (4-2, 0-1): Dane Givner 5-2-15; Lee Renner 1-0-2; Cortey Edwards 2-0-4; Jackson Blue 2-1-5; Nate Davis 7-2-17; Cody Blizzard 5-2-12; Quintin Aden Jr. 1-2-4; Mike Petrie 2-2-6; Ishaam Smith Jr. 0-2-2; Ricky Slaughter 2-3-7; Josh Pollner 1-1-3
Halftime: Heidelberg, 38-36.
Field goals: JCU 24-55; Heidelberg 28-62.
3-point goals: JCU 5-19 (Wallack 3, Hendrickson, Farragher); Heidelberg 4-9 (Givner 3, Davis).
Foul shots: JCU 30-38; Heidelberg 17-35.
Rebounds: JCU 31 (Janz 7); Heidelberg 33 (Davis 10).
Turnovers: JCU 18; Heidelberg 21.
Assists: JCU 6 (Wallack 2, Farragher 2); Heidelberg 14 (Givner 5).
"That was a focus thing, missed assignments. It was one of those things. We talk about focus, fight and finish, and we didn't have either," Gholson said. "We didn't have focus. The only thing we had out of those three things was the fight. We fought. We didn't focus, and we didn't finish."
That started late in the first half.
Dane Givner's layup put the Student Princes up 38-29 with 1:45 to go, but John Carroll closed out the final 90 seconds on a 7-0 run, sandwiching Jordan Murphy's jumper and layup around Danny Wallack's 3-pointer to make it 38-36.
Momentum went back and forth for most of the second half, with a Wallack 3-pointer putting the Blue Streaks up 46-44 with 15:10 to play.
Heidelberg never retook the lead, though it did force a tie (54-54) with 9:32 left on a Nate Davis layup.
But a Wallack trey 14 seconds later put John Carroll (3-1, 1-0) up for good.
The lead grew to nine four separate times after that, ballooning to 12 (77-65) on two Ryan Angers foul shots with 1:14 left.
Heidelberg doubled up John Carroll 12-6 from there, cutting the deficit to 81-77 on Givner's 3-pointer with 13 seconds to go, but couldn't get any closer.
"A lot of big plays, a lot of athletic plays, I thought, were made," John Carroll coach Mike Moran said. "We caught fire a little bit from the perimeter in the second half, and I think that was the difference in the game.
"If it would have went another two minutes, the way they started drilling it, ... I don't know what would have happened," he said. "Thank God that clock ran out."
Davis led Heidelberg with 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Givner ended with 15 points and five assists and Cody Blizzard scored 12 points.
"I expected us to win this basketball game. I felt we were the better basketball team, from 1 through 10," Gholson said. "They have a few players that are special, and I think we do, too, and they go tit for tat. But from the free throw line, we just didn't get it done.
"The outcome was not what I expected, but the effort was what I expected," he said. "We played hard."
Kyle Hubbard's 23 points led four double-digit scorers for John Carroll. Wallack tallied 16 points, David Henderson had 15 and Angers went 11 of 12 at the line - part of his team's 30-of-38 showing overall - for all of his points.