Despite high expectations, this season got off to a disappointing start for the South Siders.
On Saturday, the Maroons fell to No. 14 University of Wisconsin–Whitewater. The final score was 86–68. However, the game was more competitive than the final spread may indicate. The first half went back and forth, each team countering the other’s efforts. With five minutes left before the first half’s end, the score was knotted up at 29. A late surge by the Warhawks, however, gave them a seven point lead heading into the break.
In the second half of play, the Maroons would again close the gap. Eleven minutes prior to the final whistle, the South Siders were just four points behind their opponents. Just as they had done in the first half of play, however, the Warhawks put together a run that left Chicago unable to recover.
Statistically, the Maroons matched the Warhawks in most categories. Chicago had eight assists to Whitewater’s 11, 20 turnovers to the Warhawks’ 19. In fact, the South Siders had a better field-goal percentage than their opponents. Rebounding, however, was an entirely different story.
“Rebounding was one of the main differentiators at Whitewater,” said fourth-year guard Claire Devaney. “They out-rebounded us by a significant margin and we gave them too many second-chance scoring opportunities. It’s tough to win when you give up as many offensive boards as we did.”
And, certainly, the Warhawks did the most with their opportunities. They scored 17 second-chance points to Chicago’s meager two. They converted the Maroons’ 20 turnovers into 29 points. If the South Siders hope to string together a run of victories, these will be the issues they will have to address.
However, the Maroons will have little practice time to start turning things around. This Friday, they will head into the early-season Manchester Tournament, hoping to return home with two wins. The first of their opponents will be Capital University, who also dropped their first game of the year, finishing four points short of victory.
Each team, then, will be hoping to erase their early season disappointment.
If the Maroons hope to reverse their fortunes their focus must quickly shift.
“Our loss to Whitewater was definitely a tough one; no team wants to open a season with a loss,” Devaney said. “With that said, we have a long season ahead of us and we will not dwell on one game. We have two games at Manchester this coming weekend and our focus is now on having a great week of practice so that we can come home with two wins.”
With that said, the future remains bright, the outlook positive.
“This year’s team is so talented and we have so many players that can greatly impact the team, so we are going…into the season with the mentality that no one is going to stop us but ourselves,” said fourth-year forward Hannah Ballard. “We are going in with confidence and want to go into every game knowing we already out-worked the other team leading up to the game.”
The Maroons will face off against Capital this Friday at 4 p.m. in the Manchester Tournament.