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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

The Observer

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Men’s basketball starts UAA play 2-1, earns program-record No. 2 ranking

Courtesy of Tim Phillis/CWRU Athletics
During the CWRU men’s basketball team’s 94-76 win against NYU, graduate student guard Anthony Mazzeo led the team with 27 points.

The Case Western Reserve University men’s basketball team has been very busy since students left for the holidays, playing eight games and going 7-1, highlighted by a win over then No. 4 State University of New York at Oswego in Las Vegas 87-74 on Dec. 28 and a statement win over then No. 4 New York University 94-76 in Horsburgh Gymnasium on Jan. 12. Their overall record now stands at 13-1.

The latter win was significant for CWRU, as it represented a bounce-back performance after a disappointing loss to longtime rival Carnegie Mellon University by a score of 84-74 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 6. This big win was the Spartans first home game since Dec. 2., and Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb was in attendance to watch Cleveland’s best get even better.

A nail-biter of a victory over Brandeis University on Jan. 14 by a score of 77-76 improved the Spartans to a perfect 6-0 at home. The game also improved their UAA record to 2-1. CWRU will be back on the road for their next four contests as they face a tough stretch ahead against top teams while traveling far more miles than most other NCAA Division III teams. The Spartans will embark on road trips to Atlanta to face No. 22 Emory University on Jan. 19, as well the University of Rochester on Jan. 21 and the University of Chicago on Jan. 26. They will cap it off with a trip to St. Louis to face No. 14 Washington University on Jan. 28.

CWRU rose to No. 2 in the Top 25 in the poll released on Jan. 2, their highest-ever ranking. This ranking came after the aforementioned victory over Oswego and a second win in Las Vegas over Clark University, 98-87. The Spartans took a temporary tumble to No. 5 after losing to CMU but returned to No. 2 in this week’s poll after a pair of home wins over NYU and Brandeis. CWRU remains at the top of multiple D3 categories, ranking at No. 8 in three-pointers made per game (10.9), No. 11 in scoring offense (88.4 points per game) and No. 17 in blocks per game (5.4).

Graduate student guard Anthony Mazzeo was spectacular in CWRU’s recent games, garnering four UAA Athlete of the Week awards and one Team of the Week award. He was additionally recognized as the MVP of the 2023 Classic after averaging 28 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds over CWRU’s two victories in Las Vegas while shooting 64.5% (20-31) from the floor, including 50.0% (8-16) from three-point range and an 88.9% (8-9) mark from the free throw line. Topping it all off, Mazzeo was named to the Top 100 Watch List for the Clarence “Bevo” Francis Award, selected by Small College Basketball and its National Awards Committee, which recognizes the top overall player among NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA, USCAA and NCCAA programs each season. Mazzeo has surprised fans, coming as a graduate transfer student from the neighboring Baldwin Wallace University and making an immediate impact, averaging 19.5 points and 4.3 assists through his first 14 games with the Spartans, leading all CWRU players in both categories. His shooting splits are even more impressive, as he is shooting 52.4% from the field and 42.3% from beyond the arc, making a team-best 33 triples this year.

Head Coach Todd McGuinness has also garnered national recognition, being named the D3 Coach of the Week after leading the Spartans to two victories in Las Vegas, their second-straight undefeated non-conference campaign and their highest-ever national ranking in program history.

You can stream the team’s upcoming games on Fans can look forward to free admission to the team’s two home contests at Horsburgh Gymnasium in a couple of weeks as they host UChicago on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and No. 14 WashU on Sunday, Feb. 4 at noon.

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