CHICAGO – With a fourth quarter full of big momentum swings, the University of Chicago women's basketball team received clutch individual performances down the stretch to hold off Elmhurst College 74-70 on Friday night.
The Maroons improved to 6-2 on the season and dropped the Bluejays to 4-5.
UChicago was able to manufacture good looks at the basket all game long with quality drives to the hoop and kick outs to open shooters beyond the arc. However, the hosts were snake bitten for the whole first half, shooting only 32 percent from the field. The Maroons missed a multitude of shots at the rim and the good looks from long distance drew iron.
Olariche Obi proved to be the big contributor who kept the home team afloat. The junior forward seized ownership of the offense, consistently driving around her defenders in the post and scoring layups. Obi's persistence allowed her to tally 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half.
Elmhurst led 23-16 in the second quarter after nailing a three-pointer. But UChicago pulled closer and closer, whittling the deficit to 25-23. With 12 seconds left, sophomore forward Taylor Lake split a pair of free throws and junior guard Jamie Kockenmeister pounced on the rebound. Obi grabbed the subsequent missed shot, turned and rose up to bank in a layup as the game clock expired.
The Maroons trailed 29-28 at halftime. Elmhurst converted 52 percent of its field goals, but 14 turnovers turned into 15 UChicago points.
In the third quarter, sophomore guard Mia Farrell began to find her offensive groove and used her speed to make runs at the hoop. She scored five-straight points, including an and-one jumper to put her team up 39-37. Farrell came up big again three minutes later by making a layup, drawing a foul and sinking her free throw to make it 46-45.
It took until the fourth quarter for UChicago to make its first three-pointer. Sophomore guard Miranda Burt delivered the triple at 51-48. That kick started an 11-4 run to start the period, which featured crucial offensive rebounds and put backs. However, Elmhurst came charging right back with a trio of threes to cap a 12-2 surge.
Two-straight baskets from Farrell evened up the score at 65-65. Then Kockenmeister delivered the go-ahead three-pointer from the right wing at 68-65 with 2:14 remaining in the contest. An Obi layup pushed the advantage to 70-65 after she stole a pass and cruised the other way for a fast-break layup.
Elmhurst got within three points with 24 ticks left, as back-to-back UChicago turnovers made for anxious times. However, the Maroons successful inbounded the ball to Farrell twice down the stretch and the sophomore sank four free throws to provide the final margin of victory.
All told, Farrell made all 10 of her free throws en route to 20 points. Obi submitted her most complete performance of the season with 21 points, 15 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Lake chipped in 11 points.
UChicago shot 10-for-18 (55.6 percent) in the fourth quarter and 40.6 percent from the field for the game. The Maroons made 76.9 percent of their free throws (20-26). The home side finished with final statistical leads in rebounds (38-37), turnovers forced (26-18) and blocked shots (6-3).
- Monday, Dec. 18 @ 6:00 PM – North Central College at UChicago