CLEVELAND – Tenacious man-to-man defense converted an early Maroon scoring outburst into a permanent advantage as the University of Chicago men's basketball team earned an 81-72 road win against Case Western Reserve University on Friday night.
In Chicago a week before, CWRU overcame an early deficit to eke out an 85-80 result that dealt the Maroons their first home conference loss. UChicago jumped ahead again to begin the return visit, with a 5-of-6 three-point shooting spree making it 17-6 just five minutes in. This time, however, the Maroons shrugged off the Spartans' comeback efforts and secured the wire-to-wire victory.
After splitting the season series, UChicago's record stands at 13-6 overall (6-2 University Athletic Association). Case sank to 9-10 (2-6 UAA) with the defeat.
The Spartans could not find a way to slow down junior guard Jordan Baum, who contributed three triples in the opening bombardment and finished the day with 22 points and a 6-for-12 mark from beyond the arc.
Senior guard Noah Karras contributed 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and his fellow senior Justin Jackson was the third Maroon in double digits with 10 points off the bench. Junior guard Mattia Colangelo gathered eight rebounds, while sophomore forward Brennan McDaniel pulled down seven to accompany his seven points.
Although fewer shots fell after the blistering start, UChicago shot 50 percent over the course of the game and went 13-for-32 (40.6 percent) as a team from long range. The Spartans, by contrast, shot 41.3 percent from the field and made just 6 of 24 three-point attempts.
The Spartans held the rebounding edge at halftime, but the Maroons led that category 40-34 in the end. Case stayed in the game with the help of turnovers (forcing 17 while conceding only 11) and 41 points from the bench.
The game began with the Maroons facing the same zone defense they had encountered in the previous meeting. They responded with a long-range fusillade that left the Spartans in an early hole. Karras struck the first blow with a three and sophomore forward Dominic Laravie made a layup before UChicago drained three-pointers on four-consecutive possessions, including the set of three from Baum.
Case settled in after calling timeout and made its first bid to pull even, cutting the margin to four points at 21-17. Karras immediately answered with another three, averting what would be the closest challenge to Maroon dominance with 8:30 to play in the first half.
UChicago expanded its lead once more, with another Karras triple stretching it to 12 before Case scrapped back for a six-point halftime margin.
Junior guard Cole Schmitz opened the second half with a three-pointer of his own and the Maroon cushion remained in the low double digits as Baum and Karras added to their tallies.
But with their recent comeback victory fresh in mind, Case did not buckle easily. A four-point play with 13 minutes remaining left the score 53-47, and a quick jumper in response did not slow the Spartans' growing momentum. The home team entered the double bonus with 8:33 left and after an exchange of baskets in front of a cheering crowd trailed 61-56, the five-point margin nearly the closest of the day.
UChicago turned the ball over twice in-a-row but Case could not make it a one-possession game. The next time down the floor the Spartans forced the Maroons to use the entire shot clock, but Baum launched a deep three at the buzzer and buried it with 6:30 on the clock. This sparked a 9-0 run that established a decisive 71-57 lead.
Case got back on the board with 2:19 left and gamely pressed UChicago into making a number of free throws down the stretch. However, the Spartans did not come closer than seven points before the final whistle.
- Sunday, Feb. 3 @ 12:00 PM (ET) – UChicago at Carnegie Mellon University