After a disappointing loss against conference foe Emory last weekend, the No. 23 Chicago women’s basketball team righted the ship with two crucial victories in their final games on the home court. Sending their fourth-years out in style, the Maroons improved to 19–5 (10–3 UAA) and preserved their hopes of receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
While the fourth-years stole the Sunday headlines, it was third-year Taylor Lake’s career night on Friday against Brandeis that set the tone for a stellar weekend. Perfect through her first 12 field goal attempts, Lake tallied 30 points before recording her first and only missed shot of the evening on a tough look from the elbow to end the third quarter. The Maroons’ defense never gave in to the talented Judges’ attack, forcing 16 turnovers in the contest and limiting Brandeis to 33 points in the second half. Fellow third-year Miranda Burt poured in 16 points of her own, adding four three-pointers in the 85–68 blowout.
With the wind at their backs, the Maroons entered Sunday’s showdown against NYU looking to give fourth-years Ola Obi and Jamie Kockenmeister a well-deserved punctuation mark on two decorated careers. Two of Chicago’s marquee players for the last four years, Obi was an Honorable Mention All-American last season and is ranked among the all-time Chicago statistical leaders in nearly every category, while Kockenmeister has started for two full seasons and garnered three consecutive UAA All-Academic honors. By closing their respective careers at Ratner with a convincing 68–48 win over the Violets, the table is set for the seniors to capture their third straight NCAA tournament appearance with a win over rival Wash U.
True to the script, Obi led the way for the Maroons on Sunday, posting another double-double on 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kockenmiester added 10 points and four assists, while Burt and Lake were also in double-figures for the South Siders.
On the men’s side of the court, the Maroons fell 72–52 in a long Friday night against Brandeis. Struggling to get any offense going, Chicago was a meager 33 percent from the field and failed to convert on nearly half of their attempts from the charity stripe. Second-year Dominic Laravie was the lone bright spot against the Judges, tallying 15 points and seven rebounds.
With four fourth-years to celebrate in their final home contest of the season, the South Siders found a way to send Noah Karras, Justin Jackson, Ryan Jacobsen, and Max Jacobs out with a win over the visiting NYU Violets on Sunday. Improving to 15–9 (8–5 UAA) on the season behind double-figure performances from Karras, Jacobs, and Jackson, Chicago pulled away down the stretch to deliver a 76–66 victory in front of the Ratner crowd.
With much to play for next weekend in St. Louis, Lake spoke to her team’s ability to stay focused through the trials of the season. “With our last UAA game coming up, our focus is on that and nothing else,” she said. “We know this game is of the utmost importance, but so has been every game we’ve played this year. So, if we come to practice this week with the intensity and focus, we know we need to have in the game, we will be ready.” With respect to her career performance on Friday, Lake quipped, “It’s funny because one of coach [Carissa Sain]’s ‘keys to win’ was to shoot with confidence…not only was I able to do that, but with the right shots. It wouldn’t have been possible without great teamwork.”
Both squads will wrap up their regular seasons on the road against Wash U (18–6, 12–1 UAA women, 16–8, 9–4 UAA men) in St. Louis next Saturday. With their postseason hopes still intact, the women are set to tip-off at 1 p.m., with the men’s game to follow.