Men’s basketball extends win streak to four


John McCormick/The Observer

Graduate student guard Mitch Prendergast scored 21 points in an extremely close game against NYU to bring the Spartans to victory.

Paola Van der Linden Costello, Staff Writer

The Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team faced Brandeis University on Feb. 3 and New York University on Feb. 5 in the Horsburgh Gymnasium for a rematch after the Spartans claimed two road wins against these teams last weekend. Given the competitive nature of the UAA conference this season, a win for the Spartans was imperative to stay in the run for making the tournament.

Spartie and Spartan Cheer made an appearance on Friday night for this exciting game. The Hidden Opponent was also featured, prompting the spectators to wear green to bring awareness for mental health in student athletes

If the Spartans walked over the Judges in their away game, they trampled them at this home game, winning by 28 points and scoring a season high in the 101-73 victory. This was also the first time the Spartans scored over 100 points in the UAA conference since 1997 and the fifth time in all of CWRU’s history. Fourth-year forward Cole Frilling led the team with 16 points, third-year forward Ian Elam with 9 rebounds and graduate student guard Danny Frauenheim with 9 assists. CWRU shot 56.6% overall and 48.3% from the 3-point range. 

CWRU took the lead with 18:24 left in the first half after graduate student guard Mitch Prendergast made a 3-pointer and never looked back. Even with CWRU’s complete domination, this game was far from boring. They kept the audience engaged with exhilarating play and intoxicating energy on both sides of the court. Similar to the last time CWRU faced Brandeis, the game appeared to be a close one, with the Judges only trailing two points with 10:28 left in the first half. While last time CWRU dominated the game with their 3-point jump shots, Brandeis’ aggressive defensive strategy was proving effective this time, with the Spartans shooting just 3-4 from the 3-point range at this point in the game.

 After Elam had a defensive rebound and made a layup, the Spartans were up by four, a lead that would continue to grow with the remainder of the first half. Second-year guard Sam Trunley led the scoring barrage in the first half, making several 3-pointers. With one second left, his last shot gave the Spartans a 15 point lead at the end of the first half. Frauenheim led this half with 7 assists and Elam with 8 rebounds, both key to the Spartan’s success.

The second half was much worse for the Judges as they got penalized for their aggressive play, incurring six fouls and a technical within the first 2:22 minutes of the third quarter. The Spartans took advantage of this, converting 9 points from their mistakes. Third-year guard Luke Thorburn capped an 11-0 run for the Spartans with his layup. 

In the final 12 minutes of the game, second-year forward Umar Rashid made 5 points after being fouled at the 3-point line and converting an offensive rebound that got him a layup. Rashid has been crucial for CWRU’s defense play, notching 3 blocks for the game and having a team high of 36 total blocks this season, 20 within conference play. “When it comes to blocking shots, I really just try to use my length and athletic ability to their full potential to make plays that’ll help our guys out,” says Rashid. “Sometimes when the timing is perfect it feels like I’m playing volleyball and I know the crowd loves seeing me spike an opponent’s shot.”

With 10:22 left in the game, CWRU took the largest lead of the night of 33 points in one of the most exciting plays of the night. In a three-man effort, Rashid blocked the ball and Florey made a beautiful pass to set up Trunley to make an exhilarating dunk. Trunley reflected, “Finally dunking in a college game was a cool experience, but it was just a small part of an outstanding team effort.”

When the audience thought the game could not get any better than that last play, first-year forward Adam Miller dunked the ball with 1:25 left in the game. This play was followed by a layup by second-year guard Lucas Ortiz and a steal that led to a 3-point jump shot by Miller, giving the Spartans a 7-0 run and ultimately the win. 

The game against NYU also kept CWRU fans at the edge of their seats but for different reasons. The Violets and Spartans had a nerve-racking game that was extremely close up to the very last seconds. A key block by Elam with 15 seconds left in the game and four free throws by Rashid and Prendergast ultimately gave the Spartans the win 96-92. Frilling once again led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds while Frauenheim led with 8 assists. The Spartans shot 60.3% (35-58) from the field goal range and 47.6% (10-21) from the 3-point line.

The Spartans took the first lead of the night after NYU missed a layup and Frauenheim converted a defensive rebound into two points after a layup. The Violets took their first lead of the night with 14:01 left in the first half and their largest lead of the night of five points with 2:52 remaining. However, Frauenheim tied the game after making two free throws and Prendergast had a buzzer-beater layup that had CWRU up by two by the end of the first half. 

Frauenheim made a layup with 14:39 remaining which allowed him to reach 1,000 career points and gave the Spartans a 10-point lead. This includes his first three seasons of collegiate basketball at Susquehanna. This was followed by another five points from Frauenheim, including a 3-point jump with 13:08 left in the game that gave the Spartans their largest lead of the night of 12 points. 

Despite a significant lead by the Spartans, The Violets kept fighting, managing to tie the game at 90-90 with 44 seconds left. You could feel the tension in the audience, but CWRU was able to maintain their composure and made 8-8 free throws which ultimately led to their second win of the weekend.

Elam discussed how he was able to complete the block that saved the game: “One of my coaches had noticed that they practiced that play when they warmed up, and so when I noticed they ran it I was ready.”

After Emory University lost against Washington University in St. Louis this weekend, CWRU moved up to second place in the UAA standings. They will be playing the University of Rochester and Emory in their last home games on Friday, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 11 at 11:00 a.m. respectively. After two hard losses against these teams in their away games, CWRU hopes to make a comeback and be one step closer to winning the UAA conference.