With the UAA Championship on the line, the South Siders took their seven-game win streak to St. Louis to take on No. 7 Wash U this past Saturday. After controlling most of the action, the Maroons saw a nine-point advantage and their title hopes slip away in the final minute, falling to Wash U by a final score of 77–75.
The two UAA powerhouses were in a battle from the opening tip. After trading baskets for most of the first 10 minutes, the Maroons began to assert themselves offensively in the second period. Second-year Ola Obi led the Maroon charge, posting 12 points and six rebounds in the first 20 minutes of play. The Maroon defense was able to keep the hosts at bay in the first half, forcing 10 Wash U turnovers and holding the Bears to just 26 points. Capped off by a bucket from first-year Mia Farrell, the Maroons carried a nine-point lead into the locker room at halftime.
After a slow start to the contest, fourth-year Britta Nordstrom started the third period with five straight points for the Maroons. Third-year Elizabeth Nye tacked on three more, putting the visitors out front by a score of 43–30. However, the Bears refused to panic, answering with a 16–2 run to jump ahead by one. The Maroons would scrap their way back in front in the closing minute, with Nye making an and-one play to cap the period to give Chicago a four-point edge heading into the homestretch.
Firmly in control for most of the final quarter, two free throws from Farrell put the Maroons ahead 72–63 with only 47 seconds remaining. After a quick four points from Wash U fourth-year leader Zoe Vernon, the Maroons went cold from the charity stripe, converting only three of their final eight attempts. Featuring a pair of threes from fourth-year Ereka Hunt, the Bears tacked on eight more points in a 17-second span to pull even with Chicago at 75–75. With a chance to win the game, a costly turnover by the Maroons gave the Bears one final possession with six ticks remaining. Driving from the top of the key, third-year Natalie Orr banked home a runner in the final second to give Wash U its fourth UAA Championship in as many seasons and punching the Bears’ ticket to the DIII NCAA Tournament.
Despite the loss, the Maroons concluded a spectacular regular season with an 18–7 overall record, finishing 11–3 in conference play. Tallying five wins against top-25 opponents, the UAA runner-up Maroons were rewarded with one of the coveted 21 at-large bids to the DIII NCAA Tournament, marking their first appearance since 2012.
Chicago will face Wartburg College in the Round of 64 this Friday in St. Paul, MN. The Wartburg Knights come into the first-round matchup with a dazzling 25–2 record and the IIAC Tournament and regular season titles to match. Having reached the national semifinals one year ago, the Knights will be a formidable challenger for the young Maroons. “Wartburg is a great team that has proven themselves all year long,” said Nye. “But I wouldn’t want to play us coming off a Wash U loss.”
Friday’s tip-off is scheduled at the University of St. Thomas.