After suffering through its third disappointing three-game losing streak, which included a blowout loss to archrival New York University, the Chicago women's basketball team appeared to be burned out. Unfortunately for Case Western Reserve and Emory, however, the Maroons somehow managed to come alive once more in their final weekend home stand. In both games, Chicago won by 15 points, upending Case on Friday, 58-43, and Emory on Sunday afternoon, 80-65.
The wins improved the team's UAA record to 4-7 and its overall record to 10-12, keeping alive the possibility that Chicago will finish the season with a winning record two weeks from now.
Friday's match-up with Case featured one of the Maroons' best defensive stands of the season. Chicago not only held the Spartans to under 30 percent from the floor, but also managed to do so while allowing a grand total of three free throws the entire game. The Maroons even won the turnover battle by a significant margin and had five players with two or more steals. Third-year Angel Korer had a big night off the glass, grabbing 16 of the team's 38 rebounds.
Chicago's offense featured a solid performance from Chicago's three big scorers. First-years Susan Gotowski and Janae Winner had 15 and 14 points respectively, and third-year Paula Lepka scored 11. Fourth-year Jaimie Bleck continued to be effective with her passing game and contributed six assists.
Signs of the team's mental improvement were also apparent. With a narrow three-point lead at halftime, Chicago went on 6-0 runs on two occasions and refused to allow Case to develop any kind of consistent offense.
The Emory game provided the Maroons with more than enough motivation and incentive to win. A pre-game ceremony featured a tribute to the Chicago parents in which players gave bouquets to mothers and fathers that had supported the team since the start of the season. In addition, Chicago's two fourth-years, Laura Hebel and Bleck, both received awards for their longtime commitment to the team. Following the ceremonies, Hebel made an emotional return to the starting lineup after missing the last 14 games with a torn ACL.
The first five minutes of the game were trouble for the Maroons, who gave up seven early points before finally drawing a shooting foul. Chicago eventually pulled even, and the lead then changed hands a number of times throughout the half. At one point the Maroons were called for a technical foul when a player was found to be wearing an illegal earring. Subsequently, Emory missed both free throws.
Both teams shot over 45 percent from the field, but Korer in particular was dominant on offense. During the first half she came up with two offensive rebounds and was able to place herself in good position to score underneath the basket. Chicago's guards were able to find seams in the Emory defense and had no trouble getting Korer the ball.
The Maroons went to the locker room with a four-point lead, and, again, they refused to let their game slow down. The second half began with an 8-2 Chicago run, and two of Emory's top players were getting into foul trouble.
Chicago had a tremendous second half shooting, with Lepka hitting well over half her shots and Winner connecting on all of her attempts. The bench provided a major spark for Chicago also, as second-year Daniela Lieber hit two huge threes when the Emory defenders left her alone at the top of the arc. The speedy Lieber finished with ten points, three rebounds, and four assists.
Chicago will go back on the road this weekend when they face Rochester and Carnegie Mellon Universities on Friday and Sunday, respectively.