November 17, 2016

Chicago Falls in Season Opener

The Maroons dropped their season opener to North Park on Tuesday night on a buzzer-beating three-point finish that brought the score to 88­–87.

The South Siders started the game strong, going up 10–6 early, spurred by second-year Noah Karras’s early layup and three-pointer.

After an early advantage, the Maroons and the Vikings went back and forth for the remainder of the first half. North Park went 5-for-11 from behind the arc to add to an efficient offensive performance. Chicago responded well to its opponent’s efforts, and at the half, Chicago led 45–42. Karras’s 11 first-half points led the home team’s charge while his squad’s 71 percent shooting from the field gave him plenty of support.

In the second half, the visiting team responded to the deficit with an 11–2 run out of the locker room.  The Vikings led 63–57 halfway through the second half, but veteran point guard fourth-year Tyler Howard netted two layups to start the Maroons on a run of their own. Karras added two consecutive three-pointers, followed by threes from third-year Collin Barthel and fourth-year Waller Perez to cap off a 17–3 run for the home team.

“We executed well offensively and kept our composure when they went on runs,” Howard said. “Our composure despite ups and downs allowed us to stay in the game.”

With just 30 seconds left, Chicago led with a promising 86–80 and the game looked in the bag. But a quick basket and a three by the Vikings brought the score to 87–85 with just seconds left in regulation. North Park then intercepted a long inbounds pass and netted a quick three-pointer to snag the victory in the final second.

Typically, Chicago’s impressive stat line wouldn’t point to a loss for the home team. The squad shot 50.8 percent from the field, 41.9 percent from three-point land, and pulled down 40 rebounds in comparison to North Park’s 30. The Maroons’ starting squad was dominant, with all five recording double-digit points. Yet North Park’s sharp shooting from behind the arc at 50 percent was an issue for the Maroons throughout the game.

Despite the loss, the Maroons’ play in its season opener shows promise for the rest of the year. Karras, who did not play significant minutes last year, made an impressive debut with 17 points to lead the team. Howard proved to be a solid leader again, netting 10 points and dishing out five assists. 

The squad will hit the road for its next game at Lake Forest on Saturday. The Foresters dropped their season opener to Coe College 79–71, so both teams will come in at 0–1.

Given its offensive success against North Park, Howard says the team’s focus now will have to be on the other side of the ball. “Next game we'll have to be better defensively and get more stops. We can’t afford to be giving up uncontested shots against a strong shooting team.”

Tip-off on Saturday is at 3 p.m. at Lake Forest College.