The Maroons (2–0) kickstarted their season in grand fashion over the weekend, winning their home Tip-Off Tournament with two victories, one over Rockford (1–1) and one over Coe (1–1).
The tournament began on Friday evening with an offensive explosion, as the South Siders took to the court and turned in a strong performance for the home crowd, relying on a combination of balanced attack and stingy defense to defeat Rockford 87–45. The Maroons demonstrated their offensive versatility by making an impressive 38.5 percent (10–26) of their three-pointers and 43.6 percent (34-78) of their overall field goals, in addition to showing their depth with a considerable 37 points coming from the bench.
On the other side of the ball, the Maroons won the defensive battle by making 16 steals and forcing the Rockford Regents into a total of 25 turnovers while out-rebounding their opposition 52–41. Fourth-year guard Maggie Ely led Chicago in scoring with 17 points while contributing seven rebounds, and third-year forward Ellie Greiner achieved a double-double with her 10 points and 13 rebounds. It was a deserved win for the South Siders, and provided them with the confidence and verve to replicate their performance the following day.
On Saturday afternoon, the Maroons faced the Coe Kohawks, who were coming off a dominant result themselves, having dispatched IIT to the tune of 91–39 the previous night. The game began slowly for both sides, with both teams exchanging leads and committing nine turnovers within the first five minutes. Chicago had difficulties shutting down Coe’s fourth-year forward Mackenzie Reed, who led her team with 14 points in the first half and 18 on the day, but momentum shifted with less than two minutes until halftime, as second-year guard Caitlin Moore drained a clutch three from deep in the corner to start a 7–0 run, which gave Chicago a 27–21 lead going into the locker room.
In the second half, the Maroons overcame foul trouble to build their lead in the early minutes. To their credit, the Kohawks never relented and did their best to maintain striking distance, with second-year Mary Halvorson drawing several fouls to keep her team in the game. Despite the Kohawks’ efforts, Chicago maintained the upper hand, most notably by improving its offensive efficiency and shooting 33.3 percent (4–12) in three-point range in the half and making 45.5 percent (15–33) of their field-goal attempts. The game ended with Chicago securing a comfortable double-digit lead to finish the game 71–60.
Ely scored her Chicago career-high: 25 points.
“I’m unbelievably proud of these girls—[fourth-year guard] Julie [Muguira]’s shooting, [third-year guard] Claire [Devaney]’s defense, the freshman stepping up, the bench supporting us every possession—the team had a great weekend,” she said. “There’s still a lot of season left, but Coach C always emphasizes how important it is to celebrate each other every step of the way.”
The women’s team finished 7–18 last year in coach Carissa Sain Knoche’s first season in charge as acting head coach, but Ely was quick to emphasize how much of a learning experience the previous season was.
“Our young girls gained immense amounts of experience, which is something that cannot be taught; most importantly, last year’s experiences, both high and low, have set a tone and foundation for this season’s team to build upon. We have only gotten better because of last year’s season,” she said.
Chicago’s next game is against the Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks, who also won their first two games of the season and look to preserve their undefeated record as they visit Ratner on Tuesday, 6 p.m..