Men’s basketball opens season 1-1 after consolation win in Sudeck Tournament

Graduate student Griffin Kornaker led CWRU in assists, completing a total of 6, while also scoring 8 points and 5 rebounds.

Courtesy of CWRU Athletics

Graduate student Griffin Kornaker led CWRU in assists, completing a total of 6, while also scoring 8 points and 5 rebounds.

Gaurav Hardikar, Staff Writer

The Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team began their season on Saturday, Nov. 6 as a part of the Bill Sudeck Tournament. After getting eliminated by eventual tournament champions University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in the first round, the Spartans rallied to earn their first win of the season in the Sunday consolation game against St. John Fisher College.

CWRU hosted the Blugolds in their season opener and kept the game close throughout the first half. Though Eau Claire got off to an 8-0 start, the Spartans didn’t let the game slip away and quickly retaliated with a 15-5 run. After a constant back and forth period, the Blugolds held onto a 40-35 lead at the end of the first half. Graduate student guard Mitch Prendergast kept the Spartans in the running throughout the half, recording 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting while tallying 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals, all highs for CWRU at that point.

Unfortunately, Wis.-Eau Claire ran away with the lead in the second half, outscoring the Spartans 48-39. The Blugolds came out strong to begin the half, going on a 13-4 run within the first five minutes to increase their lead to 14. After several missed shots, the Spartans found themselves in a 20-point hole. 

However, the Spartans’ forwards injected life into their offense, as second-year Daniel Florey assisted third-year forward Cole Frilling on a 3-point jumper before knocking down one of his own. A Blugold layup came in between the pair of threes, but a layup from second-year forward Ian Elam a few minutes later cut the deficit back down to 14. Florey traded layups with Eau Claire’s Alex Voigt, picking up an extra point off a free throw awarded after a shooting foul committed by Voigt. A foul committed by Florey shortly after led to a pair of opposing free throws to put the Blugolds up 70-55 with less than eight minutes to go. 

Several missed layups and fouls by the Spartans allowed their opponents’ lead to balloon up to 19 with just four minutes remaining. Just when it felt like the Spartans began to gain some momentum late in the game, Wis.-Eau Claire began matching them shot for shot. 

The lead swelled and shrank while the teams went back and forth until the final whistle blew, leaving the Blugolds an 88-74 victory. 

Though Prendergast (16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals) and Frilling (17 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks) had notable performances in the losing effort, the Spartans were outperformed in field goal percentage (37.3% to 55.2%), 3-point percentage (32.1% to 56.0%) and rebounds (34 to 46). On the defensive end, the Spartans were unable to stop Brock Voigt and Cade Hall, who combined for 47 points. The defense, however, forced 15 turnovers, a motivating stat that the team hoped would carry into the second game of the weekend.

The Spartans came out guns blazing for their second game of the tournament, crushing St. John Fisher College 76-51. 

CWRU nabbed the lead in the first minute after a 3-pointer from fourth-year guard Robert Faller and never looked back. Faller knocked down a couple free throws shortly after, joining Frilling in scoring the Spartans’ first 9 points to keep the early lead intact. Further along in the half, graduate student forward Brian Hines extended CWRU’s lead to 14 with a layup. The Cardinals found a little offensive momentum and put up 5 straight points to close out the first half trailing 28-37.

The Spartans’ dominance took center stage in the second half, with Prendergast’s back-to-back threes in the first minute setting the tone for the rest of the game. Graduate student guard Griffin Kornaker scored the next 6 points for CWRU on a pair of jump shots and a couple of free throws to put the team up 49-30. 

The Spartans’ defensive showcase continued, forcing missed shots and turnovers while holding the Cardinals to just 2 points in the first four minutes of the second half. Though the Cardinals strung together an 8-2 run in the next two minutes, it was too little too late. For each shot St. John Fisher College sank, CWRU responded with one of their own and then some. 

The lead grew to 20 with eight minutes to go following an 8-point surge from second-year forward Hunter Drenth. After a couple makes from Frilling and Faller, the bench joined the scoring party. Unafraid to let the ball fly, first-year forward Umar Rashid made a layup, first-year guard Sam Trunley and third-year forward Josh Levy drained a pair of threes and first-year guard Diego Echavarria sank a 2-point jump shot to close out the game.

Prendergast had 20 points, Kornaker had 5 defensive rebounds and 6 assists, Frilling and Hines had 6 total rebounds each, Faller had 3 steals and Levy had 2 blocks, all highs for either team. Frilling, Faller and Hines also all led the game with 2 offensive rebounds each.

Though the Spartans put up the exact same 3-point stats as they did against Wis.-Eau Claire, they more than doubled the 3-point percentage of the Cardinals (32.1% to 15.4%). CWRU also won the battle in field goal percentage (49.2% to 35.6%), free throw percentage (63.6% to 41.2%), rebounds (40 to 36), assists (19 to 10), turnovers (15 to 17), points off turnovers (19 to 14) and bench points (32 to 7). 

Wis.-Eau Claire comfortably took the championship, outscoring Ohio Northern University 67-51 on Sunday afternoon.

The Spartans will look to build a win streak under sixth-year head coach Todd McGuinness as they begin their first road trip of the season which begins on Wednesday against Denison University and continues on Saturday at La Roche University.