January 29, 2020

Maroons Dominate the Paint

The UChicago women’s basketball team had a packed weekend of tough home matchups against Brandeis University and New York University. NYU came into the Friday matchup as the top-scoring offense in the University Athletic Association (UAA) with 81 points per game, as well as the leading scorer with guard Janean Cuffee (21.4 PPG). The threat was evident from the beginning as Cuffee scored the first seven points for the Violets. The Maroons dominated the paint with their physicality throughout the first half, yet NYU stayed tight due to their reliance on their outside shooting. However, it was unlikely that the Violets would be able to be bailed out by three-point shots for the entire game. The Maroons came out strong in the third quarter with a seven-point run to retake the lead as fourth-year Mia Farrell continued to use her physicality to get to the free-throw line. Ultimately, a quick 6–0 run at the start of the fourth quarter gave UChicago the breathing room necessary to pull out the victory. Farrell ended up tying her career high with a very efficient 31 points on 15 shots, 10 of 15 from the field and 10 of 12 from the charity stripe. The difference in the game came down to the ability for the Maroons to dominate the paint and the fact that NYU was unable to keep up the three-point shooting after the break as they only shot three of 14 from deep in the second half. 

The Maroons followed up this hard-fought battle with a matchup against the Judges from Brandeis. If the last game resembled a track meet, this one was a defensive struggle. The score was tight throughout the entire contest as UChicago went into the break up only one point, 25–24. Brandeis was able to keep inching in front through their ability to draw fouls and not waste their opportunities at the free-throw line as they shot 19 of 20. Brandeis appeared to be in the driving seat up by three in the final minute, but first-year guard Grace Hynes hit a clutch spot-up three to tie the game at 53 apiece with 23 seconds left. The Maroons’ stingy interior defense prevented the Judges from retaking the lead, and Ratner was treated to some free overtime basketball. UChicago took this momentum with them into overtime and came out flying with an 8–0 run. Brandeis was able to cut it back to a one-possession game at 63–60; however, fourth-year Taylor Lake closed that glimmer of hope with a clutch three-pointer. UChicago was able to finish the weekend undefeated after a close call, and they also extended their home winning streak to eight games. In addition to this win, fourth-year guard Miranda Burt made history becoming the third member of the Class of 2020, and 16th UChicago women’s basketball player overall to tally her 1,000th point. When asked about it, Burt first wanted to discuss the past weekend of games and the team’s accomplishments: “This past weekend was huge for our team. Both NYU and Brandeis are two of the most talented teams in the UAA, and they really challenged us to step up and play at a different level. I’m so proud of our team, particularly in the Brandeis game, as everyone made plays to help us win. It truly was a team win, from the week of practice before where everyone made sure we were prepared, to game day where we all held each other accountable.” Then, she was finally able to relish in the moment of history. “Getting to 1,000 points is really surreal. First and foremost, I think it’s a testament to my teammates—no way I am close to 1,000 without them creating opportunities. It really goes to show how blessed I’ve been to play on good teams for four years.” This team focus mentality has aided the Maroons so far this year and will continue to help them go far. The Maroons follow up this undefeated weekend with a huge clash against Emory, the only UAA team undefeated in conference play so far. Come out to Ratner Athletics Center on Friday and make some noise! The game is set to begin at 6 p.m.