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The No. 17 Chicago squad (1–1) recorded its first notch in the win column with a convincing 67–61 win over Lake Forest College (0–2) this past weekend. The Maroon men started out strong and never looked back, leading the game from tip-off to final buzzer. The game was set out to be a high-charged game right from the beginning.
The South Siders’ determination and athleticism were shown immediately in the first three-and-a-half minutes when they threw down three dunks, two of which came from fourth-year forward Nate Brooks. A layup by second-year forward Collin Barthel and a field goal by fourth-year guard Jordan Smith also contributed to a 17–6 lead by the 10-minute mark.
Chicago led 46–32 heading into the second half before the Foresters took the next 14 out of 15 points to rally to within one point at 47–46. The Maroons struggled offensively, forcing three-pointers that did not fall. However, the team was able to maintain its composure and Smith hit a clutch triple to bring the score to 52–46.
Lake Forest’s players purposely fouled to test the Maroon’s week free throw ability. The previous game against North Park resulted in a poor seven out of 19 free throws made. However, the Maroons were able to overcome their struggles from the charity stripe last weekend and hit 12 out of 14 in the final stretch of the game to top the Foresters. It was a tough battle, but the Maroons now have a record of 1–1 on the season, while the Foresters dropped to 0–2 for the year. The matchup was the 90th all-time meeting between the teams; Chicago improved to 58–32 in the series.
This coming weekend, the Maroons will participate in the North Central Tournament in Naperville, IL. Their first game will definitely be a test of their NCAA tournament prospects this year. Chicago will face a high-powered No. 7 University of Mount Union (2–1) that is currently averaging 86.7 points per game. Since losing their first game, the Raiders have won two in a row. This next matchup will, nevertheless, prove to be a very difficult. Raiders’ fourth-year forward Jarrett Ruffin will be a key player; he is one of only 28 Mount Union players to score 1,000 points in their careers. Mount Union currently has the 1–0 series lead. The Maroons are determined to even the score this weekend.
“We’re feeling really good heading into this weekend,” second-year Erik Muelheims said. “We were able to survive Lake Forest’s runs and I think that bodes well for us.”
The second matchup for the Maroons will feature an untested North Central team who will play its first game against Mount Union this weekend. For the North Central Squad, starting its season against two nationally ranked opponents will be a good test. They will be led by fourth-years Jayme Moten and Kevin Honn, the team’s top returning scorers. Moten averaged 15.7 points per game last season, while Honn had an average of 7.9 points and 4.2 rebounds per game. The Cardinals will also look to utilize its talented, young roster.
“We focused on executing our offense and getting back to playing hard for all 40 minutes,” said third-year Tyler Howard. “We gained confidence from the win but still understand we have a lot to improve.” The South Siders will certainly have a change to show improvement this weekend against their two tough opponents.
Chicago will look to start a win streak this weekend at the North Central Tournament against No. 7 Mount Union College on Saturday at 2:30 PM. They will then have a quick turnaround and play North Central College on Sunday at 2 PM.