Women’s hoops stays hot

By Chris Boots

Putting the final touch on the non-conference season before dealing exclusively with the UAA, women’s basketball may not have been in its top form, but it managed to get the job done and continue its record-setting winning streak.

Closing their non-conference season with an 11–0 record, Chicago took down the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Led by 23 points from third-year guard Nofi Mojidi and 17 from first-year forward Molly Hackney, the 13th-ranked Maroons (12–0, 1–0) took charge in the first ten minutes against MSOE (6–10) and led for the remainder of the game to drop their hosts 75–64 Tuesday night. Besides providing the squad with its offensive power, Mojidi snagged seven steals, and Hackney pulled down nine rebounds.

Looking for an easy win, Chicago watched, stunned, as the Raiders won the tipoff and continued to control the game’s first few minutes. Quickly rising to the challenge with the skills that have made her the leading scorer on a nationally ranked team, Mojidi helped her team recover, draining eight points in under three minutes to put the Maroons back in control, 8–6.

Lead possession toggled again in the first as MSOE sunk two quick threes to make it 12–11. A string of baskets from the Raiders extended their lead to 17–14, but a trey and another field goal from third-year guard Lori Tanaka put the Maroons on track with a 19–17 advantage, robbing the home side of the lead for good.

While Chicago managed to stay on the winning side of the scoreboard, the Raiders kept the game a little more interesting than the squad may have liked. MSOE pulled within one of the Maroons when first-year guard Dana Guthrie nailed a downtown bomb with three and half minutes remaining in the opening frame. The South Siders answered right back with a flurry of unchecked baskets, putting up eight points and finishing the half shooting 64 percent before heading for the locker room with a comfortable 36–26 cushion over their hosts.

Returning to the court, the Maroons struggled to keep the momentum built up late in the first stanza, and their shooting percentage dropped to 38 percent. Back-to-back-to-back fouls by Chicago reopened the action, and some stifled scoring allowed the Raiders to take some bites out of the lead. Guthrie brought her team to within five, nailing a jumper that made it 46–41 eight minutes into play. Her 27 points were a game high and matched the most collected by an opposing player this season.

Finding baskets harder to come by and with the Raiders creeping up from behind thanks to Guthrie, the squad needed a spark to start adding to the scoreboard and protect its winning stretch. A quick one-two punch from third-year forward Nicaya Rapier and Mojidi provided the Maroons with the ability to take control of the game and jump ahead 53–41, the team’s largest margin of the game.

Rapier got things started with a layup, and Mojidi followed with another shot in the paint 30 seconds later to put Chicago up 50–41. After the Raiders called a timeout, Tanaka drained a shot from beyond the arc to give the Maroons their largest margin on the night at 53–41. The guard hit three of her four attempts from the three-point distance, and her 11 points marked a career high.

Following Tanaka’s trey, the squad kept the game in hand with Hackney posting eight points and Rapier striking the final blow with a lay-up in the final six seconds on the clock to give Chicago its final 75–64 score.

Tuesday’s victory marks the second straight season that Chicago has finished undefeated in non-conference games and improved the team’s non-conference winning streak to 26 games. The Maroons plunge into league play tonight when they tip off against Emory (7–5, 1–0) in Atlanta before taking on Case (8–4, 0–1) Sunday in Cleveland.