Coming off a weekend of two home conference victories, men’s basketball split a weekend conference trip away. The Maroons lost to Case on Friday 88—75 but defeated Carnegie on Sunday 79—71. Chicago remains tied for third in the UAA standings with a 5—4 record in conference and an 8—12 record overall.
In spite of troublesome weather conditions and midterms, the Maroons boarded a bus on Thursday ready to mirror the performance they had against Case at home one week earlier. Chicago realized that to defeat Case, they would have to aggressively take control of the game.
“We needed to control the rebounds both on offense and defense,” third-year guard Tommy Sotos said. “Holding their wings was also important.”
In the beginning of the game, the Maroons were not able to control the rebounding but played well on defense as a whole. In the first half, Chicago had 13 rebounds, compared to Case’s 14. Although the Maroons’ defense was not lacking, there were not as many opportunities to rebound the ball as the Maroons would have liked because Case’s shooting seemed unstoppable. Case scored nine out of their first ten shots despite the Maroons’ defensive awareness.
“The team we played started out hot,” head coach Mike McGrath said.
“We felt like we were playing good defense but sometimes it doesn’t matter, and guys will make shots in spite of it,” first-year forward Charlie Hughes added.
One of the players that started out “hot” was Case’s Austin Fowler. In the first half alone, he scored 15 points, making three of his four attempts from behind the arc. Chicago knew that they needed a different plan to stop Fowler’s precise shooting.
“We had to body him a little,” Sotos said. “We had to get in his head a little bit.”
Even with the defensive adjustment the Maroons were unable to stop the Case attack and trailed 44—36 at the half. McGrath began to realize that victory might be out of reach.
“At the end of the first half, we couldn’t get the game as close as we wanted,” he said. “The last couple of games we were down at halftime, but not by this much.”
The second half seemed to continue the trend of the first as the Spartans shot 65.2 percent from the field. However, not all hope was lost. With 13:25 remaining in the game, third-year guard Michael Sustarsic sank two free throws to cut the Case lead down to three. Yet Case quickly regained its composure as the Maroons were unable to capitalize on the momentum they had.
“We missed a few crucial shots to even up the score,” Sotos said.
The Maroons ended up falling 88—75. Third-year guard Matt Johnson led the game in scoring with 26 points. The Maroons were not pleased with the result considering the spectacular overtime win against Case exactly one week before.
“The Case game was disappointing because we had just beaten them last week, but unfortunately they got the best of us this time,” Hughes said.
While the Maroons were disappointed with the loss at Case, the players did not feel there would be a lack of energy against Carnegie despite the long road trip, the effect of midterms, and the snowstorm.
“It was a weirder trip, but with the early start to Sunday games, teams are on the same playing field,” Sotos said.