February 27, 2014

Two-game win streak will be put to the test against Bears

This weekend, Chicago will line up against Wash U for its last game of conference play. Though the Bears pose a huge challenge, this is the most fitting way for the Maroons to finish their season.

The Maroons’ (15–9, 8–5 UAA) most heated sports rivalry is against the Bears (22–2, 13–0). Games and meets against the Bears routinely draw the largest crowds on campus as well as screams of “BEAT WASH U.”

Chicago will turn to strategy against its heavyweight rival. The Maroons started off the UAA Conference Tournament in St. Louis. Though they suffered an 80–69 loss, the Maroons had a successful night from beyond the arc, hitting six of 12 from long distance and shooting 46.7 percent from the field overall. This nearly allowed them to come back from a huge deficit in the second half, something that the Maroons will keep in mind for the rematch. Chicago will also focus on staying out of foul trouble and taking care of the ball in the final minutes of the game.

Coming off two conference victories against Carnegie (11–13, 4–9) and Case (13–11, 5–8), the South Siders are entering this game with no shortage of confidence and energy.

Standouts from these two wins include fourth-year guards Derrick Davis and Wayne Simon, third-year guard Royce Muskeyvalley, and fourth-year forward Sam Gage—all of whom set season-bests for scoring.

Simon broke the 20-point barrier twice with 20 and 24 points, and Muskeyvalley came away with his third game-winning jumper of the year and a season high of eight assists.

The Maroons will graduate four fourth-years after the season: Davis, Simon, Gage, and forward Charlie Hughes, who is ruled out with an injury.

But Hughes is not letting his injury keep him from staying completely invested in the team.

“This last game is not about contending for the NCAA tournament anymore,” he said. “It’s about pride.”

The team has learned a lot about itself through conference play this season and intends to bring it all to the table on Saturday. The players have learned to optimize defense, hone their intensity, and, in the words of Davis, “push the tempo throughout the entire game.”

Muskeyvalley says he is coming to the game with the same mindset as last week, to “simply come and play with energy.”

Wash U is currently the No. 1 team in the UAA, holding an undefeated conference record. But this only makes the possibility of an upset victory even more enticing for the already-eliminated Maroons. The players expect the game to get both physical and heated at the Ratner Athletics Center and hope to finish their season strong.

Tip-off against Wash U is Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.