CHICAGO – After a double-digit lead evaporated down the stretch, the University of Chicago men's basketball team delivered a clutch performance in the final minute of the game to upset University of Rochester 90-87 on Friday night.
The Maroons improved to 13-8 overall and 5-5 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). The No. 4-ranked Yellowjackets fell to 19-2 on the season (8-2 UAA).
The foul-filled opening minutes hampered UChicago initially, but the hosts got on track as the half progressed. The Maroons went up 12-6 and then 15-11 following freshman guard Jordan Baum's three-pointer. UChicago then seized control of the game with a 16-4 run over a six-minute stretch. Senior forward Blaine Crawford scored a pair of and-one plays in close and totaled eight points during the streak.
Facing a 35-21 deficit, Rochester battled back with three-consecutive treys to close the gap. Junior guard Jake Fenlon answered with a three with nine seconds left in the half and UChicago carried a 45-37 lead into halftime. UChicago's inside advantage was in evidence in the rebounding column (18-10) and its ability to draw fouls. The Maroons went 12-for-14 from the free throw line in the period while the Yellowjackets did not register any attempts.
The second half was owned by Fenlon, who went off from deep. The junior sprinted around screens and delivered with his quick release, swishing 6 of 7 attempts from beyond the three-point arc in the second half. He ended up with 24 points and eight threes on the evening. It was the fourth time this season that Fenlon has made at least seven treys in a game.
Fenlon's opening two triples of the second half gave his squad a 14-point advantage. Rochester answered with two deep jumpers of its own, and the three-point shootout went back and forth from there. UChicago maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half thanks to its shooting prowess. The most improbable basket occurred with 5:34 left in regulation. Fenlon got the ball with only two seconds left on the shot clock and heaved a contested running jumper from 26 feet that fell through the net as the buzzer sounded.
With an 81-66 lead in hand, the Maroons appeared to be on their way to clinching the win. However, the Yellowjackets chose that time to make their move. The visitors embarked on a furious rally in which they outscored the home side 19-3. Suddenly with less than a minute remaining, UChicago found itself trailing 85-84.
The Maroons maintained their composure down the stretch. Senior guard Tyler Howard drew a foul on a drive and converted the two subsequent free throws to put his team back on top 86-85. Rochester missed its next jumper, Baum seized the rebound and was fouled. The freshman lefty also went 2-for-2, and when the Yellowjackets turned the ball over with 11 seconds left, Howard was again fouled. The senior sank both offerings and UChicago led 90-85.
Rochester made a layup with 1.1 seconds left and deflected UChicago's inbounds pass, but it was too little, too late to force extra time.
Alongside Fenlon's 24 points, Howard made all eight of his free throws en route to 13 points. The point guard also added five rebounds, three steals and three assists. Barthel put up 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. Crawford registered 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
UChicago shot 46.2 percent from the field and a blistering 58.3 percent from three (14-24). Rochester made 45.7 percent of its field goals, including 44.4 percent from beyond the arc (12-27). Free throw proved critical – the Maroons made 28 compared to 11 by the visitors.
- Sunday, Feb. 12 @ 12:00 PM – Emory University at UChicago