CHICAGO, Ill. -- The University of Chicago men's basketball team made its free throws down the stretch and knocked off No. 5-ranked Washington University-St. Louis 68-60 in the UAA conference opener on Saturday.
The Maroons improved to 1-0 in the conference and 7-5 overall. The Bears fell to 0-1 in the UAA and 10-2 overall.
UChicago struggled mightily with its shooting stroke from the onset, missing its first 11 shots from the field. That drought allowed Washington to get out to an 11-3 lead eight minutes into the game. The Bears came into the contest with the best rebounding margin in the nation (+17.2 per game), and UChicago expended much of its effort into keeping the post clogged and not allowing Washington to flex its muscle inside. The visitors compensated by shooting open jumpers from around the free throw line and hitting shots off high screens at the top of the key.
Once freshman Alex Voss knocked down the first jumper of the day, the Maroons regrouped and climbed their way back into the game. Coming out of a timeout, freshman Jordan Smith sprinted past his defender and threw down a big dunk to give UChicago its first lead at 18-17.
Wayne Simon and Alex Pyper sunk consecutive three-pointers to expand the Maroons' lead to 28-22. Simon provided a spark off the bench with a critical block and a pair of treys in the half. The Maroons held a 32-27 lead at halftime despite only shooting 33.3 percent from the field. UChicago hit 8 of 11 free throws and got several Washington post players into foul trouble. The Bears did not attempt a free throw in the half and turned the ball over seven times.
In the second half, Washington drew within one point at 32-31. That's when Charlie Hughes stepped up and tallied seven points during an 11-0 Maroons run. UChicago took its largest lead of the half 50-38 following an athletic step-back three-pointer from Smith.
The Bears picked up their aggression offensively and closed the distance with a 14-5 run to come within 55-52. A jumper by Smith and clutch layups by Royce Muskeyvalley and Hughes pushed the lead back to 61-53.
Washington began fouling to get back into the game over the final two minutes. However, UChicago swished 7 of 10 from the charity stripe the rest of the way, with Muskeyvalley contributing six of the makes.
The Maroons outhustled the Bears in the paint over the course of the second half and ended up with a 41-35 rebounding edge over the nation's top rebounding team. UChicago also owned a distinct advantage at the free throw line, shooting 16 of 24 compared to 5 of 11 by the Bears.
UChicago Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal percentage - 41.8 percent (23-55)
Three-point percentage - 42.9 percent (6-14)
Free-throw percentage - 66.7 percent (16-24)
Royce Muskeyvalley - 14 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists
Alex Pyper - 11 points, 6 rebounds
Charlie Hughes - 11 points, 5 rebounds
Sam Gage - 8 points, 8 rebounds
Washington-St. Louis Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal percentage - 40.3 percent (25-62)
Three-point percentage - 33.3 percent (5-15)
Free-throw percentage - 45.5 percent (5-11)
Alan Aboona - 15 points, 3 rebounds
Nick Burt - 13 points, 7 rebounds
Matt Palucki - 3 points, 10 rebounds
NEXT GAME: Friday, Jan. 11 - UChicago at University of Rochester, 8 PM (ET).