BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – A layup from senior guard Jamie Kockenmeister with 19 seconds left delivered a 77-76 win as the No. 8-ranked University of Chicago women's basketball team edged out No. 10-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University in a thrilling nonconference battle on Sunday afternoon.
In a contest of two aggressive defenses, the Maroons (2-0) maintained a slim advantage throughout the day but could never quite pull clear of their opponents. It looked like this had come back to haunt UChicago when the Titans finally jumped in front in the last minutes of the game, settling into a four-point lead with just 34 seconds on the clock.
UChicago produced a stunning response to snatch back the victory. Junior guard Mia Farrell knifed into the lane for a layup and one, closing the gap to a single point. After Illinois Wesleyan missed two free throws, Kockenmeister took the ball from the right corner and took her defender to the basket for the go-ahead score.
Now trailing by one, Illinois Wesleyan set up a game winner of their own only for junior guard Miranda Burt to swoop in from behind and block the shot. A foul called on a tussle for the loose ball gave the Titans a final chance from the free throw line with 0.3 seconds still showing, but two narrow misses left UChicago the winners by a lone point.
Junior forward Taylor Lake led her team with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Burt's clutch defensive play capped off a 16-point performance. Farrell contributed 12 points, including seven free throws on nine attempts, and dished out a team-high seven assists. Kockenmeister posted nine points, six rebounds and four steals.
Illinois Wesleyan's pressing defense posed difficulties for the Maroons, who gave up 19 turnovers. However, UChicago cracked the press for several easy baskets and forced the Titans into 18 turnovers of their own. Both teams shot just shy of 50 percent from the field, but UChicago emerged with a 38-30 edge in total rebounds.
A fast-paced first quarter left little to distinguish the two teams, who remained even at 24 points apiece. The Maroons made the first move of the day with an 8-2 run to start the second quarter. Kockenmeister finished off a steal with a layup on the break, Lake split a double team for another two in the post, and the Maroons trapped a Titan for a turnover that set up another basket. The visitors briefly led by as many as six, but Illinois Wesleyan cut back into the margin leaving UChicago up 42-39 at the half.
The same pattern repeated in the third quarter as the Maroons stretched out the advantage, this time to eight points, only for Illinois Wesleyan to contract it again. The Titans tied things up at 57-57, but UChicago did just enough to stay out front heading into the decisive fourth quarter.
The teams traded threes to start the final frame. But after an IWU layup with 6:50 left trimmed the matter to 65-64, neither team scored for almost three minutes as both defenses ratcheted up the intensity.
With 4:11 remaining, a flagrant foul whistled against the Maroons as they tried to break free of the Titan press gave the hosts the chance to slip into the lead. Two free throws and a quick basket put Illinois Wesleyan up 68-65, but first-year guard Kati Heller drained a contested corner three to draw her team level.
UChicago seemed to have survived the threat, but the Titan defense forced a series of turnovers and missed shots to take a 76-72 lead.
Farrell knew the moment required an answer and drove hard to the rim, getting her layup to fall while drawing a foul. She made no mistake with her free throw and UChicago's decision to foul paid off with a pair of Titan misses. The Maroons were equally decisive the next time down the floor, as Kockenmeister took the ball and immediately put it on the floor, working around her defender and finishing strong for the game-winner. Burt's alert defending and another pair of misses sealed the victory in a game that was up for grabs every second of the way.
- Friday, Nov. 16 @ 5:00 PM – Heidelberg University at UChicago (Midway Classic)