January 29, 2015

South Siders carry winning streak into UAA matchups

Riding a recent wave of success, the Maroons (10–6, 4–1 UAA) will look to further those winning ways this weekend.

“Our goal this weekend is the same as it has been all season,” said first-year guard Elizabeth Nye. “We want to win one game at a time. That’s what we’ve been doing and they’ve really started to add up.”

Their first adversary will be Case Western Reserve (7–9, 1–4). The Spartans, in contrast to Chicago, have experienced recent struggles.

In their past nine games, they have lost all but two matchups. However, their below .500 record is deceptive as each of their last four losses has come by less than four points. Against Rochester, they lost 55–54. Against Emory, the final score was 65–62. Against then-undefeated NYU, they fell 60–59. Finally, against Carnegie Mellon, they were defeated 59–58.

When matching up with Chicago, then, they will try to solve their late-game struggles and pull out a victory. Teams are always looking for luck to swing their way.

But the Spartans won’t have the luxury of playing an easy opponent. The Maroons have looked like serious conference contenders. After a slow start to the year, the South Siders have won 9 of their last 11 games.

“Our defense has been the difference maker in the past four games,” said second-year forward Britta Nordstrom. “We’ve been able to force teams out of their comfort zones which definitely fires us up. Then, our defensive intensity carries over to the offensive side, so even when we miss shots, we know that our defense will back us up.”

Their most recent victory handed No. 8 NYU its first loss of the season. Chicago has begun to rack up the wins, and against formidable opponents no less. The Maroons seem poised to continue their success.

“We’ve learned the value of confidence,” Nye said. “We went into both games last weekend confident and relaxed and were able to just play. We executed well and played hard for 40 minutes. We also learned how to battle through adversity. We can’t control the refs or the other team but when we control what we can things tend to work out for us.”

Thereafter, Chicago will face off against Carnegie Mellon (11–5, 2–3). The Tartans, too, have had recent hiccups in their play. After starting the year 8–1, they have lost four of their last seven games.

Tartans’ second-year star Murphy Garners, however, will look to right the ship. Voted UAA Women’s Basketball Athlete of the week, she will be coming off a two game stretch where she averaged 19.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks on an efficient 57.1% shooting. She hasn’t failed to reach double-figure point totals in her last eighteen games. To succeed, Chicago will have to slow down the Tartan leader.

Carnegie Mellon will have its hands full trying to stop a resurgent Chicago offense. The South Siders’ average margin of victory over their past four games has been a whopping 17.7 points.

In their most recent game, the Maroons, for the first time since 2005, shot 60 percent from the field. All of this has combined for in-conference success. As of now, the Maroons are locked in a three-way tie atop the UAA. In its next two games, Chicago will try to maintain its lead.

Both of the Maroons’ next two games will be at home. They face off against Case Western at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and against Carnegie Mellon at 2:00 p.m. at Sunday.