December 1, 2014

Tough loss leaves South Siders looking for answers as they take on No. 15 Wheaton

Entering their campaign with high expectations, the Maroons have been left frustrated by their early-season woes. A year prior, Chicago began the season with a 3–1 mark. This time around, the South Siders have begun with the opposite record: After a tough loss to Carthage on Sunday, Chicago fell to 1–3.

The game against the Lady Reds was similar to the first two losses. Chicago found itself behind early and, despite coming back and closing the gap on multiple occasions, couldn’t do enough to pull out the victory.

“The difference between us and Carthage this weekend came down to rebounding and second-chance opportunities. They outrebounded us by 20 and had 15 points on second-chance opportunities,” said first-year point guard Elizabeth Nye. “This is something we will definitely have to improve on for our next game.”

On Sunday, Carthage began the game with a 7–0 run. A trio of threes and two layups later, the Maroons had taken a 13–10 lead. That was the first and last time Chicago would be out front. By the end of the half, Carthage held a 17-point advantage.

The second half featured much of the same. Just as they had against its previous opponents, Chicago led a valiant charge; with 12 and a half minutes remaining, the Lady Reds were up by just three points. But that is as close the Maroons came to taking the lead. The rest of the game saw Carthage slowly pull away, winning 67–55 and improving its record to 3–2.

The Maroons were again plagued by rebounding troubles: They allowed Carthage to pull down a staggering 21 offensive rebounds, only seven fewer than Chicago’s total rebound count. Giving away so many second-chance opportunities makes any victory nearly impossible, and such was the case on Sunday.

A year ago, when the Maroons started the season 3–1, Chicago won the rebounding category in each of its first four competitions. To turn things around, the South Siders will need to draw from last year’s successes.

Looking ahead, the Maroons’ schedule doesn’t get any easier.

“Our goals going into Wheaton are to do all of the ‘little things’ that have turned into big things,” said second-year forward Britta Nordstrom.

Their next opponent will be unbeaten No. 15 Wheaton (5–0), who recently downed No. 6 Hope (3–1). No opponent has come within seven points of claiming victory against the Thunder. Wheaton’s schedule, moreover, boasts a pair of blowouts: one 78–41 win and another 83–25 triumph. The Maroons, who also fell to the Thunder a year ago, will have to be at their best to steal a victory.

Thereafter, the Maroons have a date with Wesleyan College, whose record stands at 2–3. Despite an unflattering record, the Cardinals’ strengths match up almost perfectly against the Maroons’ weaknesses. Wesleyan’s lowest rebounding total thus far has been 43. An inspired performance, then, will be required for the Maroons to win the matchup down low.

“We’re not thinking about winning or losing, we’re just thinking about playing our brand of basketball and actually doing all the things that we’ve talked about doing the past seven weeks,” Nordstrom said. “We’re excited that we have the opportunity to play so quickly after last game.”

Despite the tough start, the Maroons don’t expect things to continue as they began. Through the first four games, the South Siders shot uncharacteristically badly. The 25-percent three-point shooting mark is not indicative of the team’s plethora of sharp shooters; the high turnover numbers not emblematic of the players’ savvy experience.

Turning its attention to the first home appearance, Chicago will step onto the court tomorrow evening against Wheaton at 6 p.m.