November 29, 2005

Women’s basketball rides offensive firestorm to two easy wins

Last year, offense powered women’s basketball’s breakout season. This year, the depth and talent on the bench is revealing a team chemistry that could lift the Maroons even higher.

The Maroons extended their perfect start to the season to 4–0 with victories over Blackburn (0–2) 77–51 November 22 and Concordia (0–4) 80–68 Saturday. Second-year guard Nofi Mojidi and third-year guard Korry Schwanz provided the offensive spark in both games.

After taking the league by storm last year, the sterling opening to the season comes as no surprise to the Maroons.

“This year we have higher expectations for ourselves since we know we are capable of achieving a lot more than we did,” Mojidi said. “With our new freshmen we have more talent and can expect to see a positive outcome on the floor.”

Scoring remained tight for the first few minutes of the Blackburn game. The Beavers managed a brief 5–4 lead at 14:58 before Chicago’s offense gained control of the ball.

A free throw from fourth-year forward Susie Gutowski evened up the score at five apiece. Second-year guard Lori Tanaka quickly followed up with a jumper, giving the Maroons a 7–5 edge and the lead that they held for the rest of the game.

At one point Blackburn faced a 31-point deficit at 68–37 before closing out the game 77–51. A series of fouls by the Beavers in the final six minutes offered the Maroons a chance to cushion their lead with nine made free throws.

Mojidi led the charge up the court, netting 14 points on the day. Schwanz and Gutowski were also major contributors, posting 11 and 10 points as 14 Maroons scored in the game

“An overall trend we’ve been having is we’ll have a couple of people in double digits,” Gutowski said. “I really like what we have going now. If one or two people have an off day, we have eight or nine players ready to step up and play.”

Chicago’s offense busted out in full force once again in their match-up against Concordia, missing only two shots in the first half. The Cougars lagged behind the Maroons but managed to keep pace with them until first-year guard Alex Leach’s lay-up at 12:08 sparked a 7–0 run. The Cougar’s offense resurged in the second half but could not overcome the firm 47–31 lead the Maroons carried into and padded in the final twenty minutes of play.

“We have a tendency to allow a team to get back in the game when we have a decent lead. In order for us to become a consistent and even more knowledgeable team, we have to shut out our opponents at any given opportunity,” Mojidi said.

Schwanz recorded 19 points on the evening, converting eight-of-nine field goal attempts, including three-of-four from beyond the arc to lead the offensive strike. Leach came off the bench to post 16 points in her 12 minutes of play. Mojidi and fourth-year forward Jennifer Kaiser also came through for Chicago, putting up 13 and 12 points in the Maroons’ 80–68 wipeout of the Cougars.

Fourth-year guard Janae Winner set a new school record for most assists in a game with 13 of Chicago’s 22 on the day, surpassing Karen Walsh’s 12 from the 1984-85 season and boosting her team-leading numbers in the category to 27 for the season.

At the beginning of the season, head coach Aaron Roussell pegged offense as Chicago’s forte from last year most likely to improve in the 2005-2006 campaign and continue as a key element to success. The Maroons at this point in the season have outscored opponents 163–110 in the first half and 299-249 overall.

“As long as we keep it a fast paced game, with our athleticism and hard work many teams will be in for a surprise this year,” Mojidi said.

The Maroons tip off against Aurora (1–3) at Ratner today before a two-week break in their schedule. They return to action on December 10 at North Park (2–3). Their long road trip takes them to Dominican (1–2), St. Catherine’s (1–1), and Augsburg (2–1) before their next home game against North Central (2–1) December 30.