ATLANTA – A clattering block attempt ensured a last-ditch three-pointer would fall short as the 17th-ranked University of Chicago women's basketball team found no reward for their persistence in a 60-57 defeat at Emory University on Sunday.
The physical defensive play provided an appropriate conclusion to a contest that saw the Maroons straining to crack an Eagles defense that entered the day atop the University Athletic Association in points allowed per game. No more than a few points ever separated the teams, but Emory did just enough to stay in front and fend off the visitors.
The pivotal conference result put Emory (17-5, 8-3 UAA) in a tie for second place with UChicago (17-5, 8-3 UAA).
UChicago shot just 36.2 percent from the field and had 14 shots blocked. The Eagles augmented their rim protection with dominance on the glass, outrebounding UChicago 47-33. The Maroons, for their part, kept in the mix with dogged defending, converting 22 Emory turnovers into 22 points and holding their hosts to 38.2 percent shooting.
Emory made 13 of its 18 free throws, while the Maroons only earned seven trips to the line.
Junior guard Mia Farrell poured in 21 points on 9-of-17 shooting and created a genuine chance to level the score on the final possession. Junior forward Taylor Lake picked up 12 points and four steals, making her presence most evident during a crucial third-quarter stretch. Junior guard Miranda Burt added 11 points, the third Maroon in double-digits on a day where points were tough to come by.
Although UChicago had narrowly bested Emory 60-56 in their first encounter, the Eagles welcomed the Maroons to their home court with confidence having dealt conference leader Washington University – St. Louis its first UAA loss on Friday.
After UChicago took a 7-2 lead early in the first quarter, the hosts rattled off seven-straight points to go ahead. Lake brought the run to a halt with a three-pointer from the top of the arc at the five-minute mark. Senior forward Olariche Obi followed up with a nifty step-back jumper from the post, and as the Maroons pushed in transition, Burt drove in from the wing and euro-stepped past the last defender for a smooth finish at the rim. After an 11-0 Maroon run, however, Emory answered with six more before the end of the period, leaving the score 18-15 in favor of UChicago.
The Eagles capitalized on a pair of turnovers with an 8-0 spurt to start the second quarter before two Maroon baskets pulled it back to a one-point game at 23-22. That tally held for nearly four minutes before Farrell sliced in for an and-one layup to put her team up 25-23. Emory resumed scoring in the last minutes of the half, threatening to extend its lead, but Farrell had the last say as she raced in to float a layup high off the glass, making it 29-27 as the buzzer sounded.
The Maroons clung tight in the third thanks to an inspired effort from Lake, who took the fight to Emory in the post after her frontcourt partner Obi went to the bench early with her third foul. Working hard to create varied angles and scoring positions, Lake spun in a reverse layup and after missing her next effort, put it right back in off the glass. The third time down, she missed after absorbing heavy contact only to once again convert from her own rebound. On the other end of the floor, she drew a charge and grabbed a steal, the latter of which led to a possession that ended with Lake earning a trip to the free throw line.
Although UChicago forced a few more turnovers, the Eagles continued to find the basket and kept hold of the lead. With each team scoring 16 points in the third, the margin had not changed at 45-43.
The Eagles seized the largest lead of the day midway through the fourth quarter as a blocked shot led to an open Emory three. UChicago now trailed by seven with 6:17 remaining, having only scored on a Farrell layup a few minutes earlier.
The Maroons crept closer with a transition layup from Burt and a long two from first-year guard Kati Heller. UChicago earned two more chances with the margin at three but could not get a shot to fall. A whistle in the post with 1:15 on the clock gave the Eagles two chances to extend their lead from the line and they converted both, making it 55-51. Burt sank a driving layup at the other end, but with little time left, the Maroons had to send Emory back to the line.
The Eagles made the first and missed the second, keeping UChicago alive down four with 45 seconds to play. Another physical block inside, however, denied the Maroons' chance to make it a one-score contest. The pattern continued as Emory made just enough free throws to keep it a two-possession game each time UChicago drew closer with a basket. Farrell's layup with eight seconds to play finally got the Maroons in range at 59-57.
Emory successfully inbounded the ball and headed to the line hoping to ice the game. Converting the first made it 60-57, but when the second shot rattled out, UChicago rushed down the floor. Farrell pulled up from the top of the key for what could have been the game-tying buzzer beater, but the shot was blocked to seal the outcome.
- Friday, Jan. 15 @ 6:00 PM – Brandeis University at UChicago