January 25, 2011

Maroons grab UAA lead, extend win streak

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The Chicago women’s basketball team continued its winning streak as it decimated Brandeis (9–7, 1–4 UAA) and squeaked by NYU (8–8, 2–3) this past weekend to push their overall record to 13–3. A Case Western loss to Rochester also gave the Maroons sole possession of first place in the UAA.

The Maroons have not just been beating teams lately–they have been beating them badly. Three of the Maroons’ last four games have been blowouts, and the team’s average margin of victory during their nine game winning streak is a robust 14.8 points.

The 71–38 blowout at Brandeis got ugly quickly. Back-to-back threes by third-year Bryanne Halfhill pushed the lead to 40–10 late in the first half. The Maroons reserves continued to dominate in the second half after head coach Aaron Roussell pulled the starters. Eleven Maroons played at least ten minutes.

“Every second of rest time helps,” said third-year Meghan Herrick, who led the Maroons with 17 points. “It is one less time you fall on the floor or one less time you get elbowed in the side. It really helps you conserve your energy, which is what you need to do playing Friday and then Sunday games.”

The Maroons needed all the rest they could get to cool a red-hot NYU squad. The Maroons had trouble handling the run-and-gun style of the Violets, and actually trailed by as many as seven early in the game. A three-point bomb by third-year Morgan Herrick gave the Maroons a 24–22 lead with 8:48 to go in the first half. The lead stretched to seven for the Maroons, but a three-pointer by NYU’s Tana Bertino cut the lead to one with 15 minutes to play.

“[After that three-pointer] we all basically looked at each other and said, ‘“We are not losing this game. This one is on us,”’ said Meghan Herrick. Back-to-back layups by third-year Taylor Simpson stretched the lead back out to six and the Maroons would not trail the rest of the game. Simpson had a dominant performance in the second half scoring 17 points and snagging seven rebounds. She had 25 points and 13 rebounds for the game, leading the Maroons to an 87–81 victory.

The Violets shot 45 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc. NYU was led by second-year scoring dynamo Maggie Ely, whose aggressive play earned her 10 trips to the line, eight of which came in the second half.

“Ely played really well and is a tough cover,” said Aaron Roussell. “I thought we did an OK job on her, but she hit some tough shots and got herself to the free throw line.”

Meghan Herrick conceded that the Maroons did not play their best game defensively. “Although they were playing extremely well, we were not sticking to our spots and stopping them. We allowed them to get to the lane too easily and allowed for too many open shots,” explained Herrick.

The Maroons will have to buckle down this weekend to defeat a dangerous Case squad. The Spartans are second in the UAA and have two competitive scorers, forward Erin Hollinger and guard Evy Ianoco, who score an average of 16.3 and 14.6 points a game, respectively.

“It’s a long season and we still have so many tough games ahead of us. Our schedule was good to us early, which only means that we will have to travel to some tough environments later in the year. We have a ton of work to do yet, and our kids know that, but for right now we are just focused on Friday night and preparing for a tough Case team,” said Roussell.