It was a disappointing weekend for the No. 21 South Siders as they travelled to Emory and Rochester, eventually dropping both games. The Maroons (14–6 overall, 5–4 UAA) have dropped four games in a row after an impressive 13-game win streak.
The weekend started with the Maroons traveling to Atlanta to take on the Emory Eagles, who sit atop the UAA standings with an 8-1 conference record. Although the South Siders were looking to take revenge after Emory broke their win streak last week, the Eagles won by a score of 61–53.
After Chicago initially jumped out to a 7–2 lead, the Eagles streaked past and never looked back. The Maroons used a 9–0 run to tie the game at 21 each but Emory led at half 28–24 and outscored Chicago by four in the second half to push the deficit to eight.
The game against Emory was an opportunity for the Maroons to make up ground in the UAA and chase a playoff bid, which now becomes more difficult. “We needed that game to put ourselves in competition for the conference title, and unfortunately we didn't get it done,” second-year guard Jake Fenlon said. “We hope to bounce back, however, and win games to give ourselves the best chance for an at-large bid to the playoffs.”
Second-year forward Collin Barthel was able to take away some positives from the loss. “I think we figured out as a team how to battle through adversity. It was easy when things were going good to have leadership and accountability, but when things started going poorly we have to dig deep and find out what kind of character our team had,” he said.
The squad then travelled north to Rochester to take on a Yellowjacket team that was 7–2 in the UAA, second only to Emory. The Maroons lost a heartbreaker in overtime 77–76.
Despite leading by three at halftime, the Maroons found themselves down 15 points with 4:24 left in the game. It was a gut-check opportunity for the team, and they responded with an impressive 15–2 run lead by third-year guard Tyler Howard to put the Maroons down by two with less than a minute to go. Howard finished the game with 22 points and three assists.
“The run was a huge moment for our team to show that we were able to stick together through some turmoil and adversity. It wasn’t just us hitting shots and them making mistakes on offense. We guarded and executed on offense,” Barthel said.
Down by three with time expiring, Fenlon, who is from Rochester, hit a buzzer-beater in his hometown to tie the game at 66 and send it to overtime.
“It was really cool that I was able to hit that in my hometown, with a lot of family and friends at the game,” Fenlon said. “But, obviously it would have been much more special if we pulled out the W.”
Despite their best efforts, the Maroons fell victim to a buzzer-beater from Rochester in overtime, this one for the win. The South Siders were leading by three at the end of overtime when they fouled to presumably only give Rochester a chance for two points. The home team, however, strategically missed the second free-throw and secured the rebound. Third-year Yellowjacket Mack Montague then hit the game-winning three.
“We were down 15 in the second half and just kept fighting. Jake Fenlon hit a huge three to send us into overtime. We controlled most of overtime before they hit the buzzer-beater. It was a tough loss to swallow,” said Howard.
The squad has five more games left in the regular season to earn a playoff bid. Their next game is Friday versus Carnegie Mellon at 8 p.m.