Men’s basketball struggles down the stretch

JP O'Hagan, Sports Editor

The men’s basketball team dropped two games on the road, and is struggling to get back on track as the season comes to a close. Playing in the highly talented University Athletic Association conference has dragged down the Spartans, who started the season 8-3 prior to UAA play. Despite their struggles, Case Western Reserve University has secured their first winning season since the 2009-2010 season and heads into the season finale against Carnegie Mellon on Saturday with a positive outlook. “We want to end the season on a positive note,” said head coach Sean McDonnell. “Getting our first UAA road win at Carnegie Mellon would be a great win for us.”

The tough weekend was started by a rough loss at Washington University at St. Louis. Following the disappointing home season finale last weekend, the Spartans were unable to bounce back as the number three nationally ranked Bears played superior ball, handing the Spartans an 87-61 loss. Washington held the lead and the momentum from the jump ball, jumping out to a 10-2 lead less than three minutes into the game. The Spartans were led by junior Dane McLoughlin, who scored a team high 13 points and found the middle of the hoop from behind the arc a few minutes later to pull within three. However, the Spartans were unable to overcome the Bears defense and grab a lead and the Bears strolled into a 45-31 lead at the half.

The second half continued in much the same fashion as the Spartans gave up an 8-0 run in the opening minutes, and saw their deficit grow to as much as 22 points. Case was unable to convert points in the paint and keep the bruising Bears’ big men out of their defensive end, leading to a 18-50 point differential in the paint. The Bears crushed any hope of a Spartan revival, as each of the Washington starters put up double digits leading to the 87-61 final. “Playing road games in the UAA is always tough. We struggled to keep both teams from scoring in the paint [this weekend],” said McDonnell.

The Spartans headed to the windy city to play the University of Chicago on Sunday and despite another strong showing from McLoughlin, who put up 22 points, the Spartans lost the shootout to the Maroons, 95-80. The game played out very similarly from two nights prior, as the Spartans were playing from behind the entire game. A pair of Maroons put up 24 points each as the they jumped out to an early 17-3 lead after seven minutes of play and withstood a 10-4 run by the Spartans late in the half to head into the locker room with a 45-32 lead.

The second half was no stronger, as the Spartans slipped to go down by 17 on two occasions during the second half. Case refused to go away completely and pulled within nine with 9:18 left on the clock, but Chicago remained unfazed and bumped its lead back to double figures by the time the final buzzer rang.

The Spartans look to finish the season strong when they face Carnegie Mellon on the road Saturday afternoon. “Losing is always tough,” said McDonnell. “Our guys are resilient, though, and will stick together.”