Unfriendly Confines: UAA opponents fall flat in Ratner

By Matt Altomare

The Chicago men’s basketball team started the UAA home schedule off on the right foot, winning two close victories last weekend over Case Western Reserve and Emory University. Fourth-year forward Scott Fisher, the standout player in both games was fourth-year forward Scott Fisher, with a 23.5 point and 10.5 rebound average and was rewarded by being named the UAA male athlete of the week.

Friday night featured a tough contest between the Maroons and the Spartans of Case Western. Neither team could really find the shooting touch in the early going. The Spartans took an early lead, but it quickly evaporated due to the streaky shooting of the Maroons.

The game, characterized by the ability of both teams to get the defensive rebound and limit the other team to one, usually errant shot, was knotted at halftime 31-31. The teams combined to shoot 33 percent on the evening.

The Spartans went on a run to take a 10-point lead early in the second half. The Maroons then responded with a 13-3 run to tie the game at 50. Then third-year Brian Cuttica electrified the crowd by sinking a desperation no-look three-pointer as the shot clock expired.

Yet the real story for the Maroons in the second half was the offensive performance of Fisher, who grabbed seven offensive rebounds and kept Chicago in possession of the ball.

Fisher racked up 22 points throughout the night, mostly in the low post where he dominated the Spartans guarding him. His free throw with 4:07 left in the game put the Maroons up for good.

The Spartans went on a little run, making it a 56-54 game with just under a minute left, but the Maroons proved to be too much for them as first-year guard Brandon Woodhead sealed the game with a pair of free throws. The Maroons won 58-54.

Defensively, third-year forward Mike Dolezal’s six blocked shots were one shy of the school’s all time record of seven.

“I knew that I could make shots down low against these guys,” Fisher said. “I told my teammates at halftime: if we can establish down low, then we got this game. It was a much needed win for us.”

Sunday’s game was similar to Friday’s. The Maroons fell behind early but brought the game close at the half, trailing 35-30. Emory went on a run early in the second half, building a 60-51 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game.

As has been the trend for most of the season and year, the Maroons did not lie down and die. Instead, they put together an 11-2 run to tie the score at 62 with two minutes left in regulation.

The game was tied at 64 when third-year guard Justin Waldie, who has established himself as a go-to player this season, slashed through the lane to give the Maroons a two-point lead with 22 seconds left. Waldie finished the game with 12 points.

Emory made it close when it hit three free throws with seven seconds left, but Cuttica nailed it down for Chicago by hitting two clutch foul shots with five seconds to go.

The star of the game for the Maroons, however, was once again Scott Fisher, who collected a game-high of 25 points. Whenever the Maroons needed a big basket, they went to Fisher, who continued to dominate in the low-post.

“Scott has been awesome this season,” Cuttica said. “This is the first year that he’s been completely healthy and he’s playing as good as I’ve ever seen him.”

“This was a great weekend for us,” said assistant coach Rusty Lloyd. “With two straight conference road weekends ahead of us, we really needed those two wins.”

The Maroons are now 6-1 at the Ratner Center and 6-8 overall. Chicago is also 2-1 in UAA play, good enough for a second-place tie. The team will travel to Brandeis and New York University this weekend.