After blowing a first half lead against the University of Chicago and a potential four-game losing streak on the line, the Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team didn’t stress.
“We have been in this situation before. We didn’t panic, stayed calm and focused on executing,” said fourth-year forward TJ Duckett.
The team did exactly that.
Duckett and first-year guard Ignas Masiulionis combined for 30 points in the second half to lead the team to a 78-73 comeback victory over the University of Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 21.
The team produced balanced scoring in the first half, with five players scoring five points or more. The Spartans withstood a three point barrage from University of Chicago’s second-year guard Jordan Baum, who made four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the game.
A 10-0 run by the Spartans led to a 24-20 lead with about ten minutes left in the first half. The run included two 3-pointers by second-year guard Monty Khela and four points from Duckett.
The team led by as many as eight points, 35-27, following a 3-pointer from second-year guard Sam Hansen with about five minutes left in the first half.
However, the Maroons went on a 11-0 run to go into halftime with a 41-35 lead.
After a three by the University of Chicago, Hansen hit a three and Duckett scored six straight points to tie the game at 44 just four minutes into the second half.
Duckett’s layup two minutes later gave the Spartans their first lead of the second half.
The teams traded leads, but Masiulionis hit back-to-back 3-pointers and a layup to put the Spartans up 65-59 with five minutes left in the game, giving them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game. They won the game 78-73.
“I give our guys a ton of credit to come out fighting on Sunday,” said Head Coach Todd McGuinness. “We played well and defended well.”
Earlier that week, on Friday, Jan. 19, the team played their highest ranked opponent this season, No. 3 Washington University in St. Louis.
The Washington University in St. Louis Bears proved themselves deserving of that top five ranking as they quickly took a 10-0 lead.
The Spartans were no match for the Bears, as Washington University in St. Louis led by as many as 27 in the first half and held a 53-29 lead going into the break.
CWRU attempted a potential comeback, as first-year guard Antonio Ionadi hit a layup five minutes into the second half to cut the lead to 59-40.
The Bears didn’t give in and ultimately ended the contest with a 100-64 victory.
CWRU finished the week with a win and a loss, bringing their season record to 8-8 with a 2-3 mark in the University Athletic Association (UAA).
Looking at this week’s schedule, the team is on the road for two UAA matchups with stops at Brandeis University on Friday, Jan. 26 and then New York University on Sunday, Jan. 28.
“We are preparing heavily for these games,” said Duckett. “We know [that] we have a chance to win a few in a row here, so we’re taking nothing lightly and focusing on playing winning basketball.”