CHICAGO – The University of Chicago men's basketball team closed out its 2017-18 season on a high note on Saturday afternoon at the Ratner Athletics Center. The Maroons spoiled rival Washington University-St. Louis' bid for a perfect conference ledger, as the hosts triumphed 86-77.
The Maroons ended the year with a 13-12 overall record and a 9-5 mark in the University Athletic Association (UAA) – they won five of their final six games. The No. 2-ranked Bears fell to 22-3 overall (13-1 UAA) and had their 14-game winning streak snapped.
Saturday was Senior Day for the UChicago foursome of forward Collin Barthel, guard Jake Fenlon, forward Ryan Shearmire and guard Porter Veach. They led the squad to 62 career victories in their tenure.
It was the senior duo of Barthel and Fenlon who took charge early and often in the game. Fenlon nailed a three-pointer and then finished an and-one layup in transition to make the score 8-4. However, WashU's efficient offense took off from there. The visitors made 71 percent of their shots with crisp extra passes to the open man through the opening nine minutes of the game. A 22-4 run put them in the driver's seat at 26-12.
UChicago weathered the storm and began to find its rhythm on both sides of the ball. Junior guard Max Jacobs slithered into the lane among the big bodies and grabbed crucial offensive rebounds that he laid back into the basket. His six points during one stretch aided the Maroons in a 20-5 run of their own. A Barthel trey and two free throws by sophomore forward Sam Sustacek recaptured the lead at 32-31.
The Maroons used their ball movement to great effect and Fenlon reaped the rewards late in the half. The senior long-range threat scored seven points in the final minutes to give his team a 42-37 edge at the break. Fenlon had 16 points and Barthel added 12 points. WashU made 7 of its 14 three-pointers to keep the score close.
The lead was cut to 47-45 before UChicago responded with eight-straight points. The Bears turned the ball over four times during that stretch.
Each time the visiting side tried to make a big move on the scoreboard, the Maroons lit it up from outside to maintain their advantage. All told, the hosts made 7 of 13 three-pointers in the second half. Sophomore guard Jordan Baum was the most efficient, making 4 of 5 from deep at critical junctures. He splashed in a trey at 66-57, and again at 71-61.
With UChicago's offense humming along, the home side would hold a lead for the entire second half. The closest the Bears would get was 71-68 with five minutes left. Barthel came up with rainbow fade away jumper in the paint as the Maroons scored on four-straight possessions.
Fenlon put an exclamation point on the win with 1:47 left, as he launched straight away from well beyond the arc and caught nothing but net to make it 82-75. UChicago salted the game away from there to claim the upset victory.
Fenlon tied his season high with 31 points to pace the offensive effort. Barthel contributed 16 points and seven rebounds to the cause. Baum went off for a career-high 18 points that included six threes, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals. Jacobs submitted a double-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists.
The Maroons made half of their field goals and 44.8 percent from long range (13-29). They also converted 65 percent from the free throw line.
The Bears made 44.8 percent on field goals and 39.3 percent from three (11-28). The visitors made 6 of 7 free throws (85.7 percent).
Rebounds were nearly even (36-35 UChicago) as were turnovers (14-13 WashU). The hosts scored 24 points off those turnovers.