ALBION, Mich. – Cold shooting made life difficult for the University of Chicago men's basketball team on Saturday afternoon, as the Maroons rallied to tie the game after their first-half cushion eroded only to eventually fall 75-69 in overtime against hosts Albion College.
UChicago (5-3 record) converted 34.2 percent of its attempts from the field, 7-for-31 from beyond the arc (22.6 percent) and 50 percent on free throws (12-24). Despite this, the visitors established a double-digit lead in the first half and answered the call when Albion (5-2 record) took control late in the second, coming through with clutch baskets to force overtime.
Senior guard Noah Karras scored 15 points and sank three of his eight three-point attempts, while first-year forward Zach Munson contributed a career-high 13 points and five rebounds that were instrumental in constructing the first-half advantage. Sophomore forward Dominic Laravie posted 11 points and six rebounds, while senior guard Max Jacobs proved an indispensable sixth man with 10 points, three rebounds, and vital contributions in the final minutes of regulation.
UChicago counterbalanced its shooting woes with hard work on the boards and in the lane, outrebounding Albion 55-41 and scoring 32 points in the paint. The offensive boards were one-sided 16-2 in UChicago's favor. A 16-14 deficit in turnovers, however, hurt the Maroon in a game decided by such a slim margin. Albion's slight edges in field goal percentage, three-point shooting and free-throw percentage all combined to tilt the contest in the Britons' favor.
The contest took its first turn seven minutes in as Karras pulled up for a short jumper in the lane, then not long after pounced on a turnover for an easy layup that put the visitors ahead for the first time. A UChicago three on the ensuing possession led to an Albion timeout as the Maroons had growing momentum and a sudden 14-8 advantage with just over 12 minutes to play in the first half.
The teams continued to trade baskets, but while the Maroons threatened from beyond the arc, the Britons relied on getting into the lane and earning trips to the free throw line. As the half wore on, UChicago created pressure offensively and tightened defensively, stretching their margin to as many as 15 points on the way to a 35-23 lead at the break.
Albion's offense showed signs of life to start the second half, cutting the UChicago lead to seven points. The Maroons held the margin steady for several minutes, but another outburst just before the midway point pulled the Britons within striking distance. With the score now 45-43, the game opened up a bit as the Maroons responded with a basket of their own. Before long, however, Albion had crept even closer and jumped out to a four-point lead with 6:24 on the clock. A pair of layups from Laravie rapidly evened the score and he hit a free throw moments later to put the Maroons back in the lead.
An Albion three-pointer soon snatched it back for the Britons. It looked like UChicago had thrown the ball away as they tried to tie things up once more; however, Laravie scrambled to recover the ball and hit two free throws to knot the game at 55 apiece.
The Britons scored again, but Jacobs answered for the Maroons and grabbed a rebound on the ensuing Albion miss, giving his team a chance to take the lead with 1:46 remaining. UChicago could not convert, however, and a foul during a wild scramble for the loose rebound sent Albion to the line, where two free throws put the Britons up 59-57.
The Maroons came up with a crucial stop, winning the ball back with 24 seconds left. Junior guard Cole Schmitz drove hard to the rim and missed, but a tremendous effort from senior forward Ryan Jacobsen saw him snatch the ball out of a crowd and put it back off the glass to tie it with nine seconds to spare. Albion's last chance to win in regulation clanged off the rim.
The Britons struck first with a jumper to start the extra period before Jacobs responded with a pair of free throws. The Maroons briefly snuck ahead 63-61, but Albion hit a three, forced a turnover, and hit another three to swing back in front. Junior guard Jordan Baum quieted the home crowd with an immediate three of his own, leaving UChicago trailing 67-66.
Albion knocked down another free throw as the Maroons struggled to produce a much-needed basket on three trips down the floor. UChicago would soon pay the price as the Britons drilled a game-sealing three with 26 seconds remaining.
- Tuesday, Dec. 18 @ 5:00 PM (ET) – UChicago at Transylvania University