CHICAGO – The No. 5 University of Chicago women's basketball team held off a fourth-quarter surge and came up with the clutch plays when needed in Wednesday's 72-69 victory over visiting Wheaton College.
The No. 5 Maroons (5-0) needed all 20 of Taylor Lake's game-high points and used key plays down the stretch from Mia Farrell, Miranda Burt, Ola Obi and Jamie Kockenmeister to preserve the win against the Thunder (3-2), who trailed by as many as 14 with 23 seconds to play in the third quarter.
Obi finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, five steals and four assists and Farrell chipped in 10 points to round out UChicago's leaders in a game that featured 19 Wheaton blocked shots – a new Ratner Athletics Center record.
The Maroons came out on top in a fast-paced first quarter, 17-11, and then outscored the Thunder by two in the second frame to head into the break up by eight, at 33-25. Wheaton's size was evident early, as the Thunder recorded nine first-half blocks to keep the Maroons' shooting off-balance (UChicago shot 35.1 percent in the first 20 minutes).
But UChicago's patented defense gave the hosts the edge, as it forced 15 Wheaton turnovers that led to 14 points for the Maroons.
Sophomore Elisabeth McCray provided some huge minutes off the bench in the third frame, her biggest moments including back-to-back corner 3s – the second with 56 seconds to play – that surged UChicago ahead by 12, at 55-43. An Obi offensive rebound and putback pushed that advantage to 14 before Wheaton went 1-of-2 at the free-throw line to make the score 57-44 in favor of UChicago heading into the fourth quarter.
UChicago's offensive went cold in the fourth quarter, however, leaving the door open for the Thunder to make its run – a 21-8 surge that ended with a Hannah Frazier layup to tie the game at 65-all with 2:14 remaining.
That's when the Maroons' veterans stepped up to the challenge, first with Lake's bucket and the foul and ensuing free throw to stall the run. Obi added another tough layup inside, but Wheaton answered with two makes of its own to force a Maroons' timeout with the hosts leading by 1, 70-69, with 43 seconds left.
Farrell, one of UChicago's two preseason All-Americans, answered the call out of the timeout with a driving layup to push her team's lead to three, and it was the senior Kockenmeister who came up with the game-clinching defensive play, blocking a Wheaton 3-point attempt with 1 second left to seal the win.
The Maroons finished 36.1 percent (26-of-72) from the floor and 40 percent (6-of-15) from 3 compared to 42.4 percent (25-of-59) and 35.7 percent (5-of-14) for the Thunder. The rebounds stood even at 43-all, but UChicago totaled 18 steals and forced Wheaton into 26 turnovers, while the Maroons committed 16 giveaways.
Wheaton's block party was led by Jill Berg's eight and Hannah Frazier (12 points) added five. Jennifer Berg led the Thunder in scoring with 17 and Jordan Myroth added 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
McCray finished with eight points – a career-high – and teammates Klaire Steffens (six points, five boards) and Kockenmeister (five points, five boards) added solid efforts. Lake match Obi with a team-high five steals and added six rebounds and two assists.
- Saturday, Dec. 1: #5 UChicago at Elmhurst, 2P CT