This past Saturday, the UChicago men’s and women’s basketball teams traveled to the Gateway City to represent the school against their athletic rival Wash U. Earlier in the season, the Maroon men matched up once again with the Bears coming out victorious 88–80. Last year, the Maroons lost once to the Bears by a point and won later by nine. This year, with a roster full of fresh-faced players, Wash U lacks the same veteran presence the UChicago team bolsters. In fact, last year’s Wash U roster boasted seven fourth-year players, while this year a mere one. These numbers perhaps speak to the victory of the Maroons when they first met with the Bears in early January.
Last game, the Maroon men saw big performances from second-year Dominic Laravie as well as third-year Jordan Baum, with the former contributing 24 points, and the latter contributing eight rebounds and 11 assists. Across the board, the Maroons swept their rivals in every category except field goal percentage and points in the paint. The last time the Maroon ladies met Wash U, the outcome was unfavorable. Still, fourth-year Olariche Obi led the team with her 17 points and eight rebounds. Knowing coach Sain-Conache to be a fan of quick transitions, practice came into play in the game. The Maroons led in points off turnovers as well as doubling the Bear’s modest seven second-chance shots.
Heading into the match-up, the Bears were 17–8 overall and 10–4 in the league. The dynamic of the other team had clearly shifted, though it remained to be seen until the standout performance from second-year Jack Nolan. The Bears also stepped up in all the categories the Maroons had beat them in before. From the outset, the Bears took the lead offensively. Fourth-year Noah Karras has the first opportunity for the Maroons to put them on the board; however, he missed the opportunity, causing possession to fall back into the hands of the eager Bears. Luckily, following a series of missed opportunities on the home team’s behalf, the Bears called a time out. At this point, the game turned around for Karras and the remainder of the Maroons. The significance of their early time out spoke loud and clear throughout the game. The Maroons posed a severe threat to the Bears, and the Bears were anxious. The Maroons held their rank over the slow-moving Bears from the moment Karras came out of the time out and landed his first three in the last three minutes of the half.
Within a period of a minute, the Bears landed a three, the Maroons turned over the ball, and coach Mike McGrath replaced four of the starting five. For the remainder of the half and the game, the Bears reversed their fortunes. Of the 32 times players scored in the second half, only 12 were made by the Maroons. Moreover, a third of their shots were made through foul shot attempts. Outshot and out-hustled in the second half, the Maroon men fell to Wash U, 81–63.
As for the ladies, the outcome was likewise not fortuitous. With the game high of 13 points coming from third-year Mia Farrell, the Maroons were beat across the board. With no fastbreak points, about half the number of second chance points and almost a third of the points from players coming off the bench, the ladies found themselves neck and neck until about the 12-minute mark. With eight minutes remaining in the half, Wash U player Madeline Homily scored and altered the trajectory of the game. From that point until the very end, the Bears maintained their edge.
While both teams took hard losses that day, it certainly did not damper the mood of our athletic stars. Speaking on the game, fourth-year Jamie Kockenmeister said, “It was definitely disappointing because we were looking forward to beating Wash U, especially after the loss earlier in the season. But I think the game shows that we have grown a lot over the season and were able to make the corrections that we were unable to do last time which is a positive thing.” Moving forward, Kockenmeister said, “We have a renewed focus and passion, we still believe that this is a very special group that can achieve a lot and I think we’re going to hold onto that for the rest of the season.”