November 23, 2004

Men's basketball loses ten-point lead against NCAA champion Pointers

The men's basketball team opened the 2004-05 campaign with a second place finish at the eighth annual Midway Classic. After defeating St. Mary's in the tournament's opening round Saturday at Ratner, the Maroons fell to the defending NCAA Division III champions, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, in the championship game.

Coming off a four-game winning streak to conclude last season, the Maroons continued their hot streak, dominating the St. Mary's Cardinals on both sides of the court in a decisive 67-50 victory.

Chicago took the lead on third-year Jon Todd's three pointer six minutes into the game and never looked back, thoroughly controlling the tempo into halftime. The Maroons broke out of the break with a 14-3 run—second-year guard Jesse Meyer hit two three-point shots and finished with ten—to seal the victory in front of 800 fans.

On the defensive side, the Maroons' swarming defense held the Cardinals to 36 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers. The Maroons also controlled the paint, finishing with 43 rebounds, almost doubling the 21 boards grabbed by St. Mary's.

Fourth-year guard Justin Waldie finished the game with team highs of 15 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks, further solidifying his role as the new senior leader of the veteran-laden Maroons. Third-year Clay Carmody contributed 14 points and 6 rebounds from the forward slot.

In the other half of the Midway bracket, top-ranked UW-Stevens Point defeated Southwestern University 65-42 late Saturday night, setting up a Sunday night championship match against the Maroons. Forwards Jason Kalsow and Nick Bennett led the Pointers with 17 and 14 points, respectively.

The Maroons entered Sunday night's championship match with high hopes against the Pointers. That confidence led to a fast Chicago start, going on a 10-2 run to finish the first half ahead 29-20. Fourth-year guard Brian Cuttica finished the half with 11 points on 4 for 8 shooting, including a team-high three three-pointers. Kalsow led the Pointers with 10 points in the half.

The Maroons maintained that lead into the 2nd half, but with 14 minutes left in the game, the Pointers showed the resiliency and talent that made them defending champions. Trailing 38-30, Stevens Point went on an unstoppable 20-3 run that shocked the Chicago defense. The Pointers made eight consecutive field goals in a span of eight minutes to claim the lead, 50-41, with seven minutes left. Unable to adjust to this reversal of fortune, the ultimately fell 70-58.

Chicago was outscored by 21 points in the second half of the game, shooting a miserable 18 percent beyond the arc. Stevens Point shot an incredible 65 percent from the field and sank all four of their second-half three-point attempts. Carmody came off the bench to lead the Maroons with 12 points and 3 rebounds, while Cuttica and sophomore guard Brian Woodhead also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 points.

Kalsow finished with 28 points on his way to winning Tournament MVP. Cuttica and Waldie were presented with all-tournament honors.

The Maroons hit the road today with a game against Lake Forest. With association play rapidly approaching, the Maroons will look to get as much preparation and training accomplished in these non-conference games before facing their UAA rivals in early January.