CHICAGO – Seniors Jamie Kockenmeister and Olariche Obi led the University of Chicago women's basketball team to a memorable victory in their final regular-season game at the Ratner Athletics Center, an emphatic 68-48 win over New York University on Sunday afternoon.
Senior Day ceremonies before tipoff honored the duo. During their time at UChicago, the Maroons have accumulated a four-year record of 77-25 with one UAA title and two NCAA postseason appearances. Obi was also recognized for scoring her 1,000th career point earlier this season.
The greatest credit to the seniors was their own performances on the court. Obi recorded a characteristic double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kockenmeister notched 10 points and four rebounds while her distribution kept the offense flowing to the tune of a team-high four assists.
UChicago excelled as a team defensively, restricting the Violets to 37.3 percent shooting and conceding just one three-pointer from 19 attempts. On the boards, the Maroons claimed a 46-27 advantage. These efforts proved especially useful on a day that UChicago shot 42.3 percent from the field and 21.1 percent from beyond the arc.
The Maroons held onto second place in the conference standings while improving their record to 19-5 overall (10-3 UAA). NYU slid to 5-8 in the University Athletic Association and 13-10 overall. With the win, UChicago avenged a 66-62 overtime loss in New York on January 20.
UChicago began the game with a well-extended possession, hauling in three offensive rebounds before Burt sliced to the basket for an and-one layup. This turned into an 11-0 Maroon run as the home defense persistently disrupted the Violets' attack. Burt forced a turnover NYU's first time on the ball and Mia Farrell peeled away a steal on the next chance, the first play of an incisive game from the junior guard.
NYU scored its first points of the game with 4:15 left in the opening period, but threes from Burt and Farrell soon deepened the visitors' predicament. Nice footwork in the post from first-year forward Klaire Steffens produced four more points from the free throw line in the final minute and her hustle on the other end closed off NYU's last scoring try, leaving the tally 23-4 after the first quarter.
Despite the early margin, the game continued at a rapid clip. The Violets started to break up UChicago's offensive rhythm, but sharp ball movement kept the scoreboard ticking for the Maroons. One of the best displays came just under the eight-minute mark as Lake whipped a cross-court pass to Farrell in the left corner. Farrell darted along the baseline and slipped it inside to Obi, who went up strong for the and-one basket. The converted free throw gave the Maroons a 28-6 lead.
A relentless interior attack continued to yield points for the Maroons while high pressure defense forced NYU to strain for baskets. On occasion these efforts converged, as when Burt ripped away a steal and glided through a Eurostep finish in transition. Although the Violets' shooting improved, going 8-of-15 in the second after a 2-of-11 mark in the first, UChicago still boasted a 36-21 halftime advantage.
The aggressive NYU defense that had caused UChicago so many problems in their first encounter reared its head after the interval, as the Maroons failed to score for almost five minutes and the Violets went on a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to eight points. Kockenmeister ended the drought with a strong put back from an offensive rebound, but the visitors pressed on to leave things at a more tense 43-34 entering the fourth quarter.
The Maroons confronted NYU head-on in the opening minutes of the fourth. Obi drifted across the lane for a quick two, then Burt drew contact and made both free throws to extend the lead back to double-digits. A nifty move from Lake put her team up 51-38 before the Violets resumed chipping away. Burt then buried a three at the five-minute mark and a Lake steal led to an offensive rebound and layup from first-year Kati Heller, shifting momentum back toward the hosts.
The hosts kept up the final push as the clock made their lead increasingly unassailable, with Kockenmeister collecting six points in her last two minutes. With 58 seconds remaining, Kockenmeister and Obi exited the game, giving the crowd a final opportunity to voice its appreciation.
- Saturday, Feb. 23 @ 1:00 PM – UChicago at Washington University – St. Louis