An overall record of 13 wins and nine losses might not sound extremely impressive. A conference record of eight wins and three losses is a little better. Wanna hear something that really pleases the ear? The Maroons have won three straight, and eight of their last 10. As the predictions held true, Chicago routed Emory on Friday night by a score of 103-78 and outclassed Case Western on Sunday afternoon by a score of 80-64 in a pair of impressive offensive performances.
Emory arrived in town on Friday with the intention to avenge an embarrassing 86-65 home loss to the Maroons, but ended up heading back to Atlanta with an even bigger loss. Chicago topped their previous season high, 87 points, with an amazing 103 points, as the team shot a shade under 53 percent from the field and 42 percent from behind the three point line. Speaking of distance, Chicago hit a season high 15 shots from downtown, led by third-year forward Derek Reich, fourth-year forward Jon Poyer and first-year guard Brian Cuttica, who each drained three three-pointers.
However, it was Reich who once again stole the show, scoring 30 points while shooting 12 for 16 from the field. It was the third time in the season that All UAA Player of the Week Reich scored 30 points or more, continuing a run of remarkable performances over the last couple of weeks. However, the past couple of times that Reich scored 30 points or more, he played a total of 34 minutes in each one of those games. This time, Reich reached 30 despite only playing 22 minutes. Poyer and Cuttica scored 13 each.
Cuttica played extremely well, going five for five from the field in scoring a career-high 13 points, to which Cuttica commented, "It felt very good to go out there and just hit my shots. It was also very nice to blow them out." Cuttica is definitely one of the key Maroon prospects for the future and will most likely be the one expected to fill the shoes of fourth-year guards Tyler Smithson and Justin Slaughter when they graduate next spring. When questioned about whether he felt pressure due to this, Cuttica stated, "I feel flattered more than pressured to be considered a future key player. I guess I just need to stay out there and keep practicing and giving it my best."
Chicago led all the way against Emory, getting down to business quickly and starting with a 16-6 run in the first five minutes. Reich scored 11 of those first 16 points. The Maroons kept on making jumpers and layups while Emory simply saw the lead get larger and larger. By halftime the Maroons were leading the match by a score of 55-27, a 28 point margin.
The second half was not much different. Ten minutes into the second half, the Maroons had already surpassed their season high in points per game, and led the game 88-44. It was at this point when coach Mike McGrath made the starting bunch sit and gave the whole bench a chance to pad their stats. The crowd of almost 500 greatly appreciated the precise offensive execution that day, as well as the margin of victory.
On Sunday afternoon Chicago got ready to face Case Western, in a rematch of a mid-January away game where the Maroons got the best of the Spartans, 77-68. The game started off rather slowly for both teams on the offense, but with great defensive displays, as eight minutes into the game the score was still in single digits, 9-9. The Maroons went on to grab a seven-point lead with 7:21 left in the first half after an offensive outburst led by second-year forward Scott Fisher. However, Case Western answered back with seven unanswered points, three of them coming after a technical foul on the Maroon bench. Nonetheless, on the next play Poyer completed a great assist to Reich who violently dunked the ball, breaking the Spartans' run.
The first half ended with a score of 37-37, making it seem like this one would go down to the wire. Fortunately, that was not the case. The Maroons started the second half with a 23-9 run, making it impossible for the Spartans to come back. Chicago shot a red hot 65 percent from the field on the second half, while keeping Case Western to a miserable 33 percent, which finally led to a very pleasing 80-64 victory.
Reich once again led the pack in both points and rebounds, scoring an impressive 25 points and grabbing 11 boards. Fisher and first-year forward Mike Dolezal contributed with 16 points a piece, while Poyer added 11.
The Maroons were coming back from splitting games on the road last weekend, but decided to show the opposition that there is no place like home, as the Henry Crown Field House continued to be a great example of home court advantage. The Maroons won their 46th and 47th home games out of their last 48, rebounding from the 54-51 home defeat to Rochester that meant the end to a home winning streak of 45 consecutive games.
Next week the Maroons head back east for back-to-back road games against NYU and Brandeis. The Maroons have had great success recently against these two teams, as they defeated Brandeis by a score of 73-60 on January 18, and afterwards trounced NYU 71-49 on January 20 in a couple of very clear victories.