Men’s basketball soars to No. 1 in UAA rankings


Courtesy of CWRU Athletics

Graduate guard Mitch Prendergast scored a season-high 29 points in a game against Emory, helping him earn recognition as the UAA Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week.

Paola Van der Linden Costello, Staff Writer

The Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team ended the weekend tied for the No. 1 seed in the University Athletic Association (UAA) conference after defeating the University of Rochester and Emory University at home. The Spartans improved to 18-3 overall and 8-3 in conference play, achieving six consecutive conference wins for CWRU—the longest streak in program history. 

These teams had already faced each other earlier in the year, when the Spartans lost by 16 against Rochester and by 9 in overtime against Emory, making these wins even more significant for CWRU. Graduate guard Mitch Prendergast explains, “For these games we were really motivated since we had lost to both teams earlier in the season. We wanted to continue our winning streak and really worked hard this week at practice.” These two wins put the Spartans in the top 25 of the NCAA Division III rankings.

On Friday, Feb. 10 against Rochester, the team celebrated Senior Night, honoring fourth-year forwards Cole Frilling and Josh Levy, fourth-year guard Jason Lewis and graduate student guards Mitch Prendergast and Danny Frauenheim. 

The night started with a steal and layup made by Levy, followed by a defensive rebound by Frilling and a 3-pointer for a quick 5-0 Spartan lead. The Spartans had an incredible run the first 10 minutes, taking their largest lead of the night at 21 with 10:38 left after second-year guard Sam Trunley made a 3-point jump shot. For the remainder of the first half, the YellowJackets couldn’t close the gap and the Spartans held a 51-35 advantage. Levy led the team with 18 points, shooting 100% (4-4) from the 3-pt line and 88% (7-8) overall. 

CWRU dominated most of the second half as well but Rochester managed to tie the game for the first time in the night with 23 seconds left in the game, pushing the game into overtime. Prendergast started the score with two free throws but the lead was neutralized by a Rochester dunk. Prendergast responded with a jumper to give CWRU a 2-point lead. With 2:20 left in the game, third-year guard Luke Thorburn made a key block to a Rochester layup which allowed him to score a jumper for the 4-point lead. 

The YellowJackets responded with a 3-pointer to put the score at 88-87 with 29 seconds left. After an intense play, Rochester committed a technical foul with three seconds left by attempting to call a timeout when they had none left. This allowed Frilling to make 2 free throws to seal the game 90-87. 

Overall, the team shot 43.4% from the field and recorded 44 rebounds and 23 assists. Levy, who had his first starting game of his career, led all players with 22 points. Levy says, “It was an amazing game and definitely a night to remember.” 

Prendergast recorded the first double-double of his career with 14 points and 10 rebounds. He applauded Levy’s play and stressed the importance of the win, especially during overtime, saying, “We came out really strong thanks to Josh [Levy]. It was also really good for us to get some late game practice too. We had only had one overtime game prior to this one and we lost, so getting another overtime and pulling it out was big for us.” 

“The Rochester game was a great win for us,” added Frilling. “The whole team had been looking forward to that game for a while since they beat us up pretty bad last time we played so it was really great to get the win and keep rolling. Josh [Levy] was huge in the Rochester game as well. All of us on the team know what he can do because we see it in practice everyday so I’m really glad he got to show our fans and everyone watching what he’s capable of. We’ve got a ton of great players on our team and I’m extremely happy for him.”

 Frauenheim also recorded a double-double, his second this season and the third of his career, with 11 points and 10 assists. Frilling scored 13 points and 9 rebounds and Trunley had 12 points. 

Thornburn opened the Sunday game with a layup, giving the Spartans a lead they would never lose for the remainder of the evening. The closest Emory came to tying the game was after they made a layup with 10:21 left in the first half, putting the score at 18-20. However, after a steal by Frilling followed by Frauenheim’s layup, the Spartans went on a 12-2 run. This left the score at 32-20 with 6:59 left on the clock. Second-year forward Umar Rashid scored the last 4 points of the first half for the Spartans with a 3-pointer with 1:13 left and a free throw with 56 seconds left. The first half ended with the Eagles trailing by 15 points at 50-35. 

The Spartans continued with great gameplay throughout the second half, leading by at least 13 for the rest of the way and 20 in the last 10 minutes. They took the largest lead of the game after Lewis made a layup setting the score at 100-67 and ultimately finished the game 102-75. 

Frauenheim added 23 points to the score and added another double-double to his record. Rashid matched his career-high with 21 points, shooting 7-10 from the floor. Third-year forward Ian Elam and Frilling led with 7 rebounds each. Overall, the Spartans shot 59.7% from the field with a total of 19 assists and 36 rebounds. 

Prendergast led the score with a season-high 29 points, shooting 7-12 from the 3-point range and 10-15 overall. He was named to the Team of the Week and earned the UAA Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week honor. Prendergast, however, emphasized the importance of team effort, especially their ability to just make the shots, saying, “We were able to hit a lot of shots. When we are hitting our 3’s, we are a tough team to beat. We also passed the ball really well and played very unselfishly which allowed us to get open looks. It was a really good weekend for us and now we are excited to go to St. Louis and play WashU for first place in the conference.”

Head Coach Todd McGuinness was selected as the NCAA Division III Coach of the Week after these two wins. This is the third time that Coach McGuinness has earned this award.

In their next away game against Washington University in St. Louis on Feb. 17, the Spartans will be competing for sole possession of the No. 1 seed in the UAA. They will also be facing the University of Chicago on Feb. 19 and Carnegie Mellon University on Feb. 25.