CHICAGO – The three-pointer junior guard Jordan Baum drained with 1:56 to play gave his team the lead for good, and several Maroon players contributed game-changing heroics of their own as the University of Chicago men's basketball team upended No. 12-ranked University of Rochester 85-80 late Friday night at the Ratner Athletics Center.
The win improved UChicago's record to 9-4 overall and 2-0 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). Rochester dropped to 11-2 overall (1-1 UAA) as it suffered its first conference loss.
On an evening when every part of the Maroon lineup stepped up when needed, it was senior guard Noah Karras that made the most dramatic intervention, scoring 11 points in the last six minutes including a pair of decisive threes. Karras would finish the evening with 17 points.
Sophomore forward Brennan McDaniel provided the initial spark with an 11-minute stint in the first half during which he went a perfect 5-for-5 from the field and 4-of-4 from three, good for 16 points while adding five rebounds. Junior guard Cole Schmitz made his time on the ball count throughout the game, converting seven of his eight attempts for 16 points and tallying six rebounds, while Baum ran the floor and filled up the stat sheet (14 points, six assists, five rebounds). In the second half, sophomore forward Dominic Laravie contributed baskets and boards that kept Rochester from pulling away for good before Karras spearheaded the final push that put the Maroons over the edge.
Both squads finished 31-of-62 (50 percent) from the field. The Yellowjackets' 12-for-24 performance from deep hurt UChicago, but the Maroons equaled Rochester's 7-for-13 three-point tally in the second half. Although the teams were nearly even in rebounds at the half, UChicago dominated the glass in the late game for a 40-27 cumulative advantage.
McDaniel's blistering start sprung UChicago to an early advantage, beginning when he drained a three from the top of the key on the game's first possession. UChicago's 9-2 opening run was the joint effort of patient offense and a defense that steered the visitors into several awkward midrange looks. Just as the Yellowjackets began to convert opportunities, Karras sank a smooth fadeaway over his man in the lane and McDaniel followed up with his second triple to force the visitors into a timeout.
Rochester hit a jumper, but another three from McDaniel kept the hosts in control as the pace of the game accelerated. The Yellowjackets found their first hints of offensive success, but McDaniel blocked a shot and finished a contested put back at the other end before drilling another long-range attempt that brought the Maroon lead back to double digits at 30-19.
In the final minutes of the first half, Rochester asserted itself and baskets started to fall, putting the Maroons under pressure just as their own shooting cooled off. By the end of the period, Rochester had improved to 5-of-11 from beyond the arc and eroded UChicago's early advantages in field goal percentage, rebounding and turnovers. The Maroons clung to a 40-37 lead at the break.
Coming out of the locker room, the Yellowjackets promptly tied the game and pressed into the lead with the help of a few Maroon turnovers. Knocking down threes with regularity, Rochester roared in front and UChicago trailed 56-46 with 12:27 remaining.
The combined efforts of Schmitz, Laravie and the rest of the Maroon offense kept UChicago's hopes alive, but the Yellowjackets persisted in draining long shots and getting to the rim with back cuts, preventing the hosts from drawing any closer as time began to threaten the hosts.
The score sat at 67-60 in Rochester's favor for nearly two minutes before McDaniel found Karras slicing across the lane for a short fading jumper to the right of the basket. The next time down the floor, Karras drilled a three from the left wing and suddenly it was a one-possession game with six minutes to play.
After an exchange of threes, senior guard Max Jacobs grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back off the glass while drawing a foul, knotting things at 70 and giving the Maroons their first chance to go ahead since the beginning of the half.
Although the Maroon defense now had Rochester under pressure again, the Yellowjackets kept getting buckets to fall and soon led 75-70 before a three from Karras dragged UChicago back into the mix.
This time, however, the Maroons forced Rochester into a tough shot and Baum brought the ball up the floor with his team trailing by two. With the clock ticking under two minutes, he dribbled to the top of the key and pulled up from three, draining the shot that put UChicago up 78-77.
Rochester moved the ball well on the ensuing possession, but found a Maroon defender ready at every turn, resulting in a late heave that Baum corralled. Karras slipped open on the left wing again and buried it as the UChicago bench erupted.
The Yellowjackets missed again but came inches from taking the ball back when the Maroons did the same, only to be thwarted as senior forward Ryan Jacobsen and Schmitz wrestled away consecutive offensive rebounds under the rim. After a timeout with seven seconds on the shot clock, Baum caught a heavily contested inbounds pass on the left baseline and sank a turnaround jumper over his defender from a thoroughly improbable reverse angle.
The 83-77 margin Baum's highlight created would be short lived as Rochester quickly converted from deep. But the visitor's last gasp foundered with 19.8 seconds left as Jacobs iced the game with a pair of free throws and stymied the Yellowjackets' final drive to the basket for good measure.
- Sunday, Jan. 13 @ 12:00 PM – Emory University at UChicago