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Victory this weekend would taste very sweet indeed for the Maroons, who are looking to win both their 16th and 17th games. With home victories over Brandeis and NYU this weekend, eighth-ranked women’s basketball can simultaneously set the school record for the longest winning streak and clinch sole possession of the UAA title.
The latter accomplishment is especially important, since next weekend the Maroons (19–3, 11–0 UAA) travel to ninth-ranked Wash U (18–4, 9–2), their perennial archrival and direct opponent for the conference title. Two wins this weekend would make that game somewhat inconsequential.
“There are no meaningless games, and that’s especially true when we play Wash U,” said head coach Aaron Roussell. “However, our focus now is on winning these home games. I have always wanted to go undefeated at home, but we have yet to do so.”
That goal seems very much in reach, as the Maroons have won 15 straight games, including away matches against this weekend’s opposition. The squad blew out Brandeis (11–11, 3–8), who they play tonight at 6 p.m., but only squeaked by NYU (12–10, 6–5), their opponents this Sunday at noon.
“NYU is the fastest team we have played against all year, so we struggled last game to stay in front of them,” third-year point guard Bryanne Halfhill said. “We are really good at getting a lot of points in transition, and so is NYU, so it was a very fast-paced game with both teams getting up and down the court quickly.”
“Maggie Ely [the conference’s second-leading scorer] had one of the best games anyone has had against us in a long time,” Roussell added. “NYU played very well against us last time, and we were fortunate enough to also play well on that day and pull out a victory.”
While Brandeis is the weaker team, Roussell seemed to think that the lopsided score was a fluke.
“I think we happened to catch Brandeis on a bad night last time,” he said. “They were not hitting shots they normally do, and we had enough periods where we played well to put the game away early. This time could be different. We expect to be in a real tough battle both games this weekend.”
But Chicago is primed for an exceptionally close game after taking down Rochester last weekend, 66–56. Though the team has never trailed in seven of their victories this season, they were behind 30–28 heading into halftime against the Yellowjackets.
“We’re usually on top the whole game, but at Rochester we were trailing for the majority of the first half,” Halfhill said. “When we went into halftime we knew we had to get it together. We got into the locker room and just made it clear that we needed to start playing like a team. We’re lucky we get to play two halves!”
Clinch the UAA title and the accompanying automatic NCAA tournament bid, and the Maroons could be playing quite a few more halves.