January 27, 2014

Offensive rhythm key in UAA victories

The Maroons (9–7, 3–2 UAA) appear to be finding their form this season, and the timing couldn’t be better. With victories over Carnegie Mellon (10–6, 1–4) and Case Western (7–9, 1–4), the Maroons extended their winning streak to three games and will be a formidable opponent for any of their conference nemeses.

The weekend’s games began on Friday night, as Chicago matched up against Carnegie Mellon on the road at the Skibo Gymnasium. Although both teams got off to slow starts, the Maroons began capitalizing on their offensive possessions, outscoring the Tartans 18–6 in a six-minute span, converting three three-pointers in the process to take a commanding 29–16 lead. The Maroons would go on another 8–0 run to close out the final minute of the first half, at which point they had amassed a comfortable 47–29 lead.

Their performance didn’t drop off in the second half, as they continued to force Carnegie turnovers and drew a number of fouls to add to their lead. The team’s improvement in all phases of the game showed in the second half, as it converted 13 out of 14 free throws and only committed seven turnovers to close out a dominant victory over the Tartans by the score of 88–69. Fourth-year guard Maggie Ely provided another stellar performance on Friday, contributing 19 points, while first-year forward Britta Nordstrom added 15 points to the cause.

After the game, Nordstrom noted that the Maroons’ lead was attributable to the significant quantity of second-chance points from offensive rebounds.

“[The game’s turning point] definitely came from the number of offensive rebounds we won,” Nordstrom said. “We wanted to make that a huge focus in the game and it created a multitude of opportunities for us.”

The Maroons began preparing immediately for another game on Sunday, this time away at Case Western. They began well, scoring the game’s first six points in the first three minutes, but Case was determined to make a game out of it, as second-year Laura Mummey scored six straight points for the Spartans in the final two minutes to cut the Maroons’ lead to one point at halftime (34–33).

Chicago exploded coming out of the locker room, as third-year forward Ellie Greiner added eight points from two threes and a layup to give the Maroons a 12-point lead with 16 minutes left. Greiner was top scorer for Chicago, adding 16 points and four rebounds, while third-year guard Claire Devaney dropped a double-double with 15 points and 14 boards on the day. Once again, the Maroons’ three-point shooting came in the clutch, as they drained seven in the second half to close out the 80–66 victory in impeccable style.

With its third consecutive conference victory in the bag, this outfit believes that it can play toe-to-toe with any opponent.

“We feel like we can definitely run it up against any team in this league. That might sound cocky but I think we’re just confident in our personnel,” Nordstrom said after the Case Western game. Considering the Maroons have been averaging 84.4 points per game in conference matchups, it sounds right on the mark.

Ultimately, the rest of the season will serve as a test for how far this team has progressed over these past few months. Chicago will continue its road schedule with a game at Emory (14–2, 3–2) this Friday at 5 p.m. and another game against Rochester (7–9, 1–4) in New York on Sunday, February 2 at 1 p.m.