Rebounding told the tale this past weekend.
The Maroons (11–13, 5–8 UAA) lost the battle of the boards against Brandeis (17–7, 8–5 UAA) on Friday, 43–32, and they lost the game, too: 75–56. But Chicago brought its Windex to NYU (14–10, 4–9 UAA) on Sunday, cleaning up on the glass—outrebounding the Violets 34–27—on the way to a 64–51 victory.
It was the penultimate round of conference play for the Maroons, and it wasn’t easy.
The host Judges snatched an early 13–5 lead. Chicago started off slowly, hitting only five of its first 27 shots. At the end of the first half—after shooting 53 percent from the field—Brandeis led 44–19.
And while the Maroons picked up the offense in the second half, shooting 52 percent, it was too little too late. Brandeis held its lead with ease, winning out, 75–56.
Shot selection, which has plagued Chicago at times this year, played a part, as the Maroons weren’t hitting threes but still chucked them up. They only hit four of 17 (23.5 percent) from beyond the arc while the Judges knocked down an impressive 10 of 19 (52.6 percent).
First-year shooting guard John Steinberg knows the Maroons made blatant mistakes.
“Brandeis knocked down open shots,” Steinberg said. “We had too many defensive mental breakdowns the first half, resulting in a big lead for them.”
Chicago had a trip to New York to ponder what to fix, and they certainly executed those changes against NYU. Both teams entered the contest tied for sixth in the conference.
NYU grabbed an early 16–11 lead, but the Maroons weren’t about to allow a repeat of Friday’s game. They fought back, going on a 15–5 run, and ending the half leading 37–28. Steinberg ignited the Maroons in the first half, coming off the bench to sink three of four three-pointers.
In the second half, the home Violets chipped back to within a point, but the South Siders responded with a 9–0 run and held the lead. They didn’t look back. The final score: 64–51.
In addition to winning the rebounding battle, the visiting Maroons played suffocating defense, not allowing a single Violet player to score in double figures. Steinberg says much of that was due to team defense.
“Against NYU, we had phenomenal help side defense,” he said. “Their offense is based on a lack of help side [defense], and we were able to stay focused and shut them down.”
Steinberg finished the game shooting 4–6 from three with 12 points. Third-year forward Charlie Hughes also added 12 points and three steals.
Steinberg sees the improvements made since the Brandeis game, and is excited about the potential for this Chicago team.
“Overall, we made some serious strides against NYU, both offensively and defensively,” he said. “If we can continue these steps into next season, things are looking great from our end.”
Chicago plays its final game of the season at Wash U on Saturday at 3 p.m.