Maroons men's basketball loses to #3-Illinois Wesleyan 80-61

Nate Brooks and Eric Robinson
Nate Brooks and Eric Robinson

CHICAGO, Ill. – The University of Chicago men's basketball team hung close throughout, but offensive struggles proved costly in an 80-61 loss to No. 3-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University on Saturday.

The Maroons dropped to 5-4 while the Titans improved to 6-1.

UChicago got after the ball in the opening minutes by pulling down offensive rebound after offensive rebound. However, the shots weren't falling and IWU went on a 16-5 run to grab a 21-9 lead midway through the half. The Titans boasted a number of large bodies across the lineup and UChicago struggled to get into the paint, with many shot attempts drawing front iron.

Meanwhile, IWU got into transition after misses and knocked down threes and layups in the lane. The Maroons got back within shouting distance by scoring seven-straight points. Senior guard Wayne Simon led the way with two free throws and a three-pointer to pull within 26-20. After a long bout of indecisiveness on offense to start the game, the home team began to attack with more purpose and went into halftime trailing by five points at 33-28.

UChicago shot only 25.8 percent on its field goals in the first 20 minutes while IWU shot 38.7 percent. The Maroons held a big advantage on the boards, outworking the Titans 26-18 in rebounding. Sophomore Nate Brooks used his athleticism and work rate in the post to pull down seven boards. Simon led the offense with seven points.

In the second half, Illinois Wesleyan turned up its aggression and started to even out the rebounding disparity. The Titans started to get second-chance points and pounded the ball into their big guys for layups. The home team kept hanging around and were within 46-41 following an emphatic dunk by Brooks and a jumper by sophomore forward Alex Voss. However, Dylan Overstreet's three-point play on a lay-in and a foul stymied the momentum.

Brooks also provided the highlight of the day at 54-44. After a missed three-pointer bounced into the air, the sophomore soared straight up into the air and slammed in a put-back dunk while getting fouled. The basket kick-started a 9-3 run to get the Maroons back within six points at 55-49. However, IWU kept executing on offense and forcing tough shots on defense to pull away over the final eight minutes of the game.

UChicago was held to 3 of 14 shooting on three-pointers – its lowest output of the season. The Maroons were averaging nine three-pointers made per game going into the day. UChicago ended up with a 39-36 edge on the board, including 14 offensive rebounds.

UChicago Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal percentage – 35.7 percent (20-56)
Three-point percentage – 21.4 percent (3-14)
Free-throw percentage – 64.3 percent (18-28)
Nate Brooks (Forward, So.) – 9 points, 10 rebounds
Wayne Simon (Guard, Sr.) – 9 points, 5 rebounds
Eric Robinson (Forward, So.) – 9 points
Derrick Davis (Guard, Sr.) – 9 points

Illinois Wesleyan Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal percentage – 48.3 percent (29-60)
Three-point percentage – 40.9 percent (9-22)
Free-throw percentage – 68.4 percent (13-19)
Pat Sodemann – 17 points
Andrew Ziemnik – 15 points, 6 rebounds
Michael Mayberger – 14 points, 5 rebounds

NEXT GAME:

  • Thursday, Dec. 19 –UChicago at North Park University, 7 PM