CHICAGO, Ill. – The University of Chicago men's basketball team got into the paint early and rode a big rebounding advantage to an 81-72 win over Case Western Reserve University on Friday.
The Maroons (12-5 overall, 4-2 UAA) are now tied with the Spartans (13-4, 4-2) in a four-way tie for the University Athletic Association (UAA) lead.
UChicago made a special effort to get the ball to Nate Brooks down low in the paint right at the game's onset. The junior forward proved up to the task and scored eight of the team's first 11 points with quickness and power on the block. Case struggled to keep up with Brooks all night and the forward posted a dominating display on the boards, pulling down a career-high 16 rebounds.
The Maroons went on an 18-2 run to build up a 27-11 lead midway through the first half. Freshman forward Collin Barthel contributed six points on back-to-back possessions. He swished a three-pointer and then converted a layup while drawing a foul. Junior forward Eric Robinson added a three-point play of his own shortly afterwards.
Facing a big disadvantage in the paint, Case countered by throwing a zone defense at UChicago. The switch in tactics netted its desired effect. The Spartans gummed up the Maroon offense and then scored quickly in transition. The visitors found success driving from the top of the key for layups, and also kicking to the wings for three-pointers. UChicago eventually fell behind 34-33 after another Case trey.
With its large lead eliminated, the Maroons went into attack mode and scored the last 11 points of the half in only 91 seconds. Junior guard Jordan Smith made a three-pointer to get the lead back and junior forward Alex Voss bookended the run with a three right before halftime. UChicago went into the break with a 44-34 lead on 51.7 percent shooting from the field. The Maroons led the rebounding category 20-13, but only made 8 of 16 free throws. Voss and Brooks scored 11 points each in first-half action.
After allowing Case to make half its shots in the opening 20 minutes, UChicago tightened up defensively. The hosts forced a string of mid-range jumpers that found iron and the Spartans shot 34.3 percent in the second half. On the other end, Smith got his team going with a silky step-back jumper at 48-38.
Barthel pushed the lead to 56-43 after making a three-pointer and a difficult teardrop runner in the lane. Four points in succession from both sophomore guard Tyler Howard and Smith gave the Maroons a 15-point lead four minutes later.
Case kept the closing minutes interesting with a number of successful drives to the hoop. The Spartans then fouled on the other end as the Maroons wore a path to the free throw line. UChicago took a season-high 44 free-throw attempts, making 25 of them. Case could not get closer than nine points and the home side finished off the victory one minute later.
UChicago dominated the final rebounding stats 49-30, including a 16-6 edge on the offensive boards. The Maroons have outrebounded their opponents 14 times so far this season.
UChicago Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal Percentage – 45.3 percent (24-53)
Three-point Percentage – 36.4 percent (8-22)
Free-throw Percentage – 56.8 percent (25-44)
Jordan Smith (Guard, Jr.) – 21 points, 8 rebounds
Nate Brooks (Forward, Jr.) – 14 points, 16 rebounds
Alex Voss (Forward, Jr.) – 16 points, 6 rebounds
Collin Barthel (Forward, Fr.) – 14 points
Case Team Stats & Leaders
Field-goal Percentage – 41.3 percent (26-63)
Three-point Percentage – 47.1 percent (8-17)
Free-throw Percentage – 85.7 percent (12-14)
Julien Person – 13 points, 8 rebounds
David Black – 13 points
Jordan Dean – 13 points
- Sunday, February 1 – Carnegie Mellon University at UChicago, 12 PM