Maroons Break out of Slump

After struggling up to this point, the men’s basketball team put their best foot forward and swept their competition this weekend.

By Audrey Mason

Sweeping the competition this weekend, the UChicago men’s basketball team has begun making a comeback in the UAA conference, emerging victorious over NYU 80–70 and beating Brandeis 77–67. The team now has a record of 6–8, finally breaking out of its four-game losing streak prior to the weekend. 

UChicago started strong against NYU with second-year Jordan Baum assisting three baskets and making a three-pointer, immediately raising the score to 12–5. Throughout the first half, UChicago pulled farther ahead, with fourth-year Jake Fenlon scoring six points and third-year Ryan Jacobsen throwing down a slam dunk. With a three-pointer and two free throws, Fenlon increased the lead to 41–22, and second-year Cole Schmitz finished the half with a put-back in the last second. The Maroons went into halftime with a 43–24 lead over NYU.

As the second half began, third-year Justin Jackson hit two layups, and an advantage of 58–42 had the Maroons confident for the rest of the game. However, NYU improved its defense, climbing back to make the score 59–57. Eight points in a row by Fenlon and second-year Collin Barthel gave the advantage back to UChicago, and a series of free throws made for an 80–70 win by the Maroons.

Two days later, the UChicago men’s basketball team came back to Ratner to play against Brandeis. Brandeis took the lead in the first half, and although Jackson and third-year Noah Karras helped to decrease this lead, the opposition still lead the first half of the first period 19–12. However, the Maroons quickly came back with help from Fenlon and second-year Sam Sustacek, finding themselves with a lead of 39–34 going into halftime. Fenlon made three three-pointers, and Sustacek scored eight points. By the end of the game, Sustacek would score a total of 19 points, a career best. Third-year Max Jacobs also scored six points, perfectly hitting all three attempt drives.

The Maroons never backed down as the weekend came to a close, continuously scoring against Brandeis to win with a final score of 77–67. Fenlon and Sustacek each scored 19 points, both team bests, while Jackson scored 14 points, and Karras made 13 points. Baum led the field in assists, ending with a career-high 12 assists. Sustacek and first-year Dominic Laravie led the Maroons with eight rebounds each and Jacobs grabbed six rebounds.

“I thought we played extremely well at points throughout the game and really got in a good groove offensively in the second half,” Jacobs said. “It was also great to see Sam and Justin fill in the void for Collin and Ryan, who are both injured. From a defensive perspective, we weren’t able to piece together multiple stops the way we could versus NYU on Friday. Even though we still won, I think that defense will definitely be a point of focus this week in practice as we prepare for back to back weekends on the road. In order for us to win on the road in the UAA, we need defensive consistency.”