Women’s basketball takes dominant Midway Classic win

Chicago beat St. Mary’s 76-34 on Saturday, and 64-57 in the title game.

By Ryan Tryzbiak

Less than a week before Thanksgiving, women’s basketball got an early start on its holiday revelry with a victory in the Midway Classic.

The Maroons (3–0) trounced St. Mary’s (1–2) 76–34 on Saturday to advance to Sunday’s championship game against Coe (2–1), who defeated Elmhurst (1–2) 80–73 in their Saturday contest. Chicago then topped the Kohawks 64–57 to claim the title.

Chicago began the St. Mary’s game on a 25–3 run, led 44–10 at the intermission, and never looked back. The game didn’t get any easier for the Cardinals after the break, who trailed by at least 33 for all of the second half. Chicago head coach Aaron Roussell had high praise for his team’s performance.

“I was ecstatic with how we played on Saturday. It was one of the better performances we have had in my time here,” Roussell said. “We made [St. Mary’s] look bad. That was not a bad team that we played.”

Second-year guard Bryanne Halfhill led all scorers with 13 points. Fourth-year posts Molly Hackney and Anna Woods also made major contributions. Hackney scored 11 and pulled down five boards, while Woods had game highs with eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

The Maroons had a more difficult time with Coe in the championship game. The Kohawks began the game on a 17–7 run that was spearheaded by third-year guard Kayla Lincoln, who scored 11 of those points. Eventually, however, Chicago settled in and whittled away Coe’s lead. Fourth-year guard Jamie Stinson’s three-pointer gave the Maroons their first lead with 1:22 remaining in the first half, and Chicago was able to preserve that lead and take a 30–27 advantage into the locker room.

Chicago increased their margin to nine points early in the second half, but Coe surged back to pull within one with 9:26 remaining. That was as close as they would get, though, as Chicago steadily pulled away over the final 10 minutes to secure the 64–57 victory.

Hackney was once again outstanding for the Maroons; she scored a game-high 23 points and recorded nine rebounds and three steals. These efforts earned her the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Hackney was one of Chicago’s best performers last season—she was third in scoring and led the team in blocks and rebounds—and Roussell believes her game has only improved since last year.

"Molly worked really hard this offseason—she was already a really good player—and came back at an even higher level,” he said. “I hate to say she put us on her back, but she really dominated the game yesterday defensively and with her rebounding.”

In addition to Hackney, Woods also earned recognition for her play over the weekend. She pulled eight more rebounds against Coe and got a spot on the all-tournament team for her efforts.

The offensive numbers tell only part of the story for Chicago; on the defensive end, the Maroons hampered their opponents all weekend. They held St. Mary’s to 26.7 percent shooting from the field, and Coe faired only slightly better, at 32.3 percent.

“Defensively, we were very good. Defensive rebounding, we were good both games. When you are holding teams to around 30 percent shooting, that’s very good,” Roussell said.

Chicago’s Midway Classic triumph marks the fifth time in as many years that the Maroons have won their own tournament, a streak that this season’s fourth-year contingent was happy to preserve.

“I was really impressed with our seniors. They had a tremendous sense of pride of winning this tournament all four years,” Roussell said.