January 29, 2020

Men's Basketball Splits Weekend Game

The Chicago men’s basketball team nearly emerged from the weekend with two key wins in the pivotal conference race, but the Maroons will have to settle for a 1–1 ending. The Maroons defeated the New York University Violets 79–74 on Friday and lost to the No. 24 Brandeis Judges in the final seconds of Sunday’s matinee game. After the weekend, the team’s record stands at 7–9 overall, 2–3 in conference. 

Against the Violets, the Maroons used an early three-point barrage and some tough playmaking down the stretch to secure the win. Second-year guard Brandon Beckman continued his recent hot streak; for the third-straight game, he set a new career high with 19 points. He added seven assists and four steals, exhibiting a penchant for playmaking. Facing a rarely seen zone defense, the Maroons let it fly from deep. In the first half, the Maroons knocked down 11 three-pointers on 30 attempts, with Beckman accounting for five of those made baskets. The Maroons took a seven-point lead into halftime. 

Out of halftime, Chicago continued to build on its lead. The score ballooned to 56–41 when Beckman connected on a nifty, behind-the-back pass to fellow second-year Zach Munson for three. From there on, Chicago struggled to score while the Violets mounted an impressive comeback. While the Maroons attempted 45 three-pointers, NYU was able to consistently find success in the paint and from the bench. The visitors outscored Chicago 46–12 points in the paint and 46–37 off the bench. When the lead shrank to four points, fourth-year Jordan Baum hit two clutch free throws with one second on the clock to ice the win. Third-year Dominic Laravie and Beckman paced the offense with 19 points apiece, and first-year Bryce Hopkins led the battle on the board with seven rebounds. 

The Maroons came close to pulling off an upset and notching their biggest win of the season against nationally ranked Brandeis. In a half-court battle, Chicago managed just six fastbreak points while holding their opponent scoreless in transition. The teams combined for a mere 12 turnovers with just nine points off turnovers. The Maroons were able to use some opportunistic shot-making to take a 32–28 lead into the halftime break. On his way to a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, third-year Brennan McDaniel scored an efficient 10 points and Laravie added seven off the bench in the half. 

The Maroons failed to find their rhythm in the second half, as Brandeis chipped away to take a 51–42 lead. McDaniel reeled off seven straight points to close the gap to a five-point Brandeis edge. With 1:17 on the clock, fourth-year Cole Schmitz cut the deficit to three with a streaking layup at the rim. A strong defensive stand from the Maroons preserved the score, 60–57, in the ensuing possession. Once again, the Maroons needed a bucket, and they turned to McDaniel. Schmitz found McDaniel in the corner, and he buried it. With the score all tied and Chicago turning up the defensive pressure, it seemed like the game would head to overtime, but the Judges made a play to avoid the upset and earn the win. With 3.2 seconds remaining, Brandeis senior Eric D’Aguanno knocked down a heavily contested triple to break the 60–60 tie. Following a time out, Baum’s shot hit back of the rim and the visitors walked away with a narrow victory, 63–60. In a game of “almosts” for the Maroons, their final shot missed by a few inches. 

Chicago has another chance to earn the upset next weekend. The Maroons face off against No. 8 Emory on Friday evening before shifting focus to Rochester, another team earning national polling recognition, on Sunday. These games will take place at the Ratner Athletics Center.