February 15, 2011

Fabulous Fifteen

Women’s basketball won their 14th and 15th consecutive games this weekend, defeating Rochester and Emory. The wins improved the team’s overall record of 19–3 with a conference record of 11–0.

Rochester’s advantage in size initially caused the Maroons difficulty, and Chicago trailed 28–26 at halftime. Led by 46.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc, however, the Maroons fought back to seal a 66–56 win.

“Rochester is a very big team that took away some of our inside game,” head coach Aaron Roussell said. “It was a back and forth game early on and it wasn’t until we got some [3-point shots] to fall in the second half that we were able to build a lead.”

Chicago took the lead early in the second half off of a three-pointer from third-year guard Meghan Herrick, who scored a game-high 21 points. The team made only one of its eight attempts from behind the arc in the first half but improved in the second, sinking six of seven. Roussell credits improved ball distribution with Chicago’s second-half success.

“We tried to take things away from the basket and spread things out a little bit,” Roussell said of the team’s halftime adjustments. “Once we moved the ball better, we were in much better shape.”

Third-years Bryanne Halfhill and Morgan Herrick also reached double-digit point totals for the Maroons, finishing with 13 and 10 points respectively. Halfhill came just short of a triple-double, accruing nine assists and eight rebounds.

In stark contrast to the Rochester game, the Maroons dominated Emory 81–62. With great shooting and dominant play on the boards, the Maroons contained Emory’s fast-paced play and led the game from start to finish.

“Emory plays a very fast style and we were able to build a lead early,” Roussell said. “After we settled down defensively, the lead continued to balloon.”

Fourth-year guard Dana Kaplan scored a career-high 19 points against Emory, sinking seven of eight from the field. Yet despite her great shooting, she was quick to give credit to her teammates for her success.

“I was shooting well from the three, but the shots were there because my teammates were making the extra pass and moving the ball well,” Kaplan said.

She also emphasized the strength of the team’s transitional play. “We scored a lot today because we pushed the ball on the fast break. We’ve been killing it in transition in the UAA,” Kaplan said.

Rebounds played an important role in the Maroons’ defensive efforts this weekend. Third-year Taylor Simpson led the team in both games with 10 rebounds against Rochester and nine against Emory, helping the team with advantages of 44–31 and 49–28 respectively.

With the season coming to a close, Roussell showed gratitude toward the team’s fourth-years for their contributions. Both he and Kaplan believe that much of the team’s success this year is due to its chemistry.

“I thought Karly [Kasper] and Dana both had ‘senior weekends’ for us in which they just did whatever was necessary to help our team win each game,” he said. “They have been so good for us for four years, and they can sense a great culmination to their careers…. They will do anything to make it happen.”

He continued, “I just think our seniors have been such an instrumental cog to our success this year and they are really doing great things for us right now. All three of them make our team chemistry such an asset for us, on top of really playing well for us on the court as of late.”

“There’s something about this team that’s different than any other team I’ve been on,” Kaplan echoed. “We really hold each other accountable, and we’re comfortable with doing that. People will tell us after games that they can tell how good our chemistry is by just watching us play. To be a part of that in my senior year is about as much as I could ask for.”

Chicago’s victories this weekend give the Maroons a two-game lead over Wash U for first place in the UAA standings. With three games remaining, victories this upcoming weekend will clinch the conference title for Chicago.