WHEATON, Ill. – A slow start turned into a barnburner down the stretch, but the University of Chicago men's basketball team fell just short 77-74 at Wheaton College on Wednesday night.
The Maroons dropped to 2-3 while the Thunder improved to 4-1.
Last year's matchup between the two schools produced a classic, as UChicago edged out Wheaton 94-92 in the Ratner Athletics Center. That game featured 28 three-point baskets.
On Wednesday evening, a disjointed first half of play was plagued by whistles. A total of 23 fouls were called in the opening 20 minutes, and neither offense was able to establish good rhythm. They combined to shoot 6-for-29 from beyond the arc and 37 percent overall from the field in the first half.
UChicago went scoreless for the opening six minutes of the game. But junior guard Noah Karras was a spark with 10 first-half points, including a trey that gave the Maroons their first lead at 16-14. Later on, senior forward Collin Barthel made a shot, drew a foul and converted the ensuing free throw to make it 28-26.
The visitors went into the break ahead 33-30, with sophomore guard Mattia Colangelo's long-distance jumper providing the separation.
Both teams contended with foul trouble on their big bodies down in the post. The UChicago forward duo of Barthel and junior Ryan Jacobsen consistently grabbed boards throughout the contest, finishing with a combined 25 rebounds. The Maroons ultimately won the rebounding battle 45-38 by game's end.
Barthel capitalized on another and-one opportunity at 47-43. Sophomore guard Jordan Baum then hit a three at 56-53 midway through the second half. That proved to be the last lead of the game for the Maroons.
Aston Francis proved to be a thorn in UChicago's side once again. Wheaton's point guard put up 35 points in last year's contest, and he was equally effective once again with a big second half. Francis tallied 27 points in the closing period to finish with a game-high 38.
A 15-0 run by the Thunder put them in the driver's seat at 68-56. Senior guard Jake Fenlon's three-pointer broke the streak with six minutes remaining. A three by Karras and a jumper by Baum cut the deficit down to 75-71 with 2:25 left. However, the Maroons went cold in the final minutes and Wheaton clinched the 77-74 win.
UChicago shot 41 percent from the field and Wheaton made 42.4 percent of its field goals. Each team converted nine three-pointers in the contest.
Barthel submitted his first double-double of the season with 16 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Jacobsen also collected double digits in points (10) and rebounds (13). Karras and Baum finished with 13 points each.
- Saturday, Dec. 2 @ 3:00 PM – Kalamazoo College at UChicago