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January 7, 2011

Chicago to defend four game win streak against Wash U

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The University of Conneticut’s historic 90-game winning streak ended during winter break. But while that streak was ending, the University of Chicago Maroons were starting a streak of their own. The women’s basketball team has not lost since winter break, pushing their overall record to 7—3 with wins over Carthage, the Milwaukee School of Engineering, Olivet, and UW-Platteville. The 49—46 win against Carthage was particularly impressive, considering that Carthage was ranked fifth in the country at the time (they are now ranked 16th).

“Our coaches scouted them very well, so we knew exactly what we needed to take away from each player, and we were very successful in doing that,” said third-year Bryanne Halfhill, who leads the Maroons in scoring with a little more than 14 points a game.

Third-year Taylor Simpson agreed that the Maroons’ defensive effort put them over the top. “I think that [defense] was really essential to our win. It was an extremely low-scoring game, so defense was a really important factor for both teams in that game.”

The Carthage game was not the only head turner. The 80—55 blowout win against Olivet less than a week later marked win number 116 for head coach Aaron Roussell, making him the coach with the most wins in Chicago’s history.

Coach Roussell was quick to deflect praise away from him. “I think [the record] speaks more to the type of players and assistant coaches we have had here over the years than it does about me personally. We have been very fortunate to get hard-working and dedicated personnel in this program, and when you are surrounded by those types of people, ‘records’ like this happen,” said Roussell.

The Maroons will be looking to continue their winning ways as they begin conference play tomorrow afternoon against Wash U. The Bears are traditionally an extremely strong program, and this year is no exception, as the Bears are currently 9—2 and are ranked fifth in the country. Last year, the Bears were D-III national champions.

Coach Roussell acknowledged that the game against Wash U is not just another game. “We always take our season one game at a time, but everyone in this program knows and respects the importance of the Wash U game,” said Coach Roussell. “They have such great players and a great coaching staff, and a game like this can’t help but be a measuring stick.”

Halfhill echoed her coach’s sentiments. “This game is ‘The Game.’ Every game we say, ‘This game is the absolute most important game all season.’ But deep down we know that this game against [Wash U] is actually the most important game all season. This game says a lot for our league play and can completely change the outcome of our entire season.”

In order to beat the Bears, the Maroons will have to shut down the production of senior Kathryn Berger, who leads the Bears in both scoring and rebounding. Berger is an assassin from deep, knocking down 40 percent of her shots from three point land this year.

The Maroons will counter the Bears’ double-digit scorer with four double-digit scorers of their own. Bryanne Halfhill, Taylor Simpson, and third-year twins Morgan and Meghan Herrick average upwards of ten points a game.

According to Halfhill, the balanced scoring attack is an integral part of the offense and what makes the Maroons so deadly. “I think we do a really great job of exposing other teams’ weaknesses. If we see that they’re taking something away from one player, then the next girl will come in and give them something else to be concerned about” said Halfhill. “I almost feel like we have four dominant scorers rather than not having one [at all],” said Roussell. “Any of the four could be putting up even bigger numbers if in a different situation.”

The game against Wash U tips off tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Ratner Athletics Center.

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