SPORTS

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January 18, 2005

Men stave off comback to reach .500 for first time since November

Coming off an upset victory over Washington University, the Maroons hoped to continue their winning ways against league rivals against Emory and Case.

They got their wish, cruising to a 62-57 win over Emory (8-4, 1-2) Friday and pulling away from Case Western (5-9, 1-2) 82-71 Sunday to complete a sweep of a three-game homestand. The team improved to 3-0 in league play for the first time since 1999-2000, and brought their record back to .500 at 7--7.

Chicago was matched up against another UAA unbeaten Friday against the Eagles, and proved up to the challenge. The Maroons took the lead during their opening possession and held it for the rest of the contest.

Although the final score only showed a five-point margin of victory, the home team dominated in most aspects of the game. They won a close rebounding battle, dished out more assists, blocked more shots, and committed fewer turnovers than Emory.

Atrocious free throw shooting proved to be a minor chink in the Maroons' armor. Leading 60-47 with just over a minute left in regulation, the Maroons missed six out of eight free throws, leading to a defensive breakdown that let the Eagles back into contention.

Fourth-year guard Justin Waldie had thirteen points to lead the Maroons. His classmate Mike Dolezal, a fourth-year forward playing in just his second game after recovering from a back injury, led Chicago with eight rebounds and four blocked shots.

"Nothing has changed in terms of our mentality," said Waldie. "We had a tough streak, but we remained positive and didn't waver in our effort. We are just playing better right now, and we expect to continue to do so."

They would continue their trend of improvement in the eleven-point victory over Case. Chicago fell behind early in the contest, but gained the lead at the eight-minute mark on a Waldie tip in. The Maroons never trailed again. Case rallied to tie at 56 all midway through the second half on a three-pointer by third-year guard Richard Mullin, but the home team responded with an 18-4 run down the stretch to hold off the Spartans.

Second-year guard Brandon Woodhead lead the Maroons with 20 points and six assists, while second-year guard Jesse Meyer contributed a season-high 18 points and two blocks in just 18 minutes of play off the bench.

"I think the keys were the same for both games. We dictated tempo and didn't get rattled when they made runs or hit tough shots," Waldie said. The Maroons will now try to maintain their momentum on their four-game road trip, the longest of the season. The Maroons will face off against fellow conference unbeaten Carnegie Mellon (11-2, 3-0) Friday and travel to preseason league-favorite Rochester (11-3, 2-1) Sunday.

"Both games next weekend will be tough. Playing on the road is always a challenge, and both of those teams are very capable," Waldie said. "We just have to continue doing what we've been doing, and hopefully get off to a better start than we did against Case."