The men’s basketball team’s play last weekend was a crucial step in the right direction as the Spartans split their weekend of UAA play at home.
Case Western Reserve University snapped a season-high, three-game skid on Sunday with a strong win over the University of Chicago. After dropping a close game to Washington University of St. Louis on Friday night for a three-game losing streak, the Spartans came roaring back for a decisive win over the Maroons. After the weekend, the Spartans stand at 10-6 and look toward next week’s throwback weekend, aiming to return to the same strong defense that has helped them win games. “We play two talented teams this weekend, so we need to play well,” said head coach Sean McDonnell.
The weekend started the same as the weekend before, as a lack of scoring caused an upset of the nationally-ranked Washington University Bears to slip through the Spartans’ fingers. Spartan big men, forward Dane McLoughlin and center David Thompson continued their dominating play, posting 17 points, nine rebounds and 13 points, 10 rebounds, respectively. Thompson’s stats gave him his ninth double-double of the season. It wasn’t enough, however, as CWRU fell 77-64 in the opening game of a four-game home stand.
The Spartans started off slow, going down 17-7, but fought back to a 23-21 lead as McLoughlin connected from behind the arc. Washington answered swiftly, however, with an 8-0 run. By halftime, Washington was up 33-28. The crowd energized the Spartans as they opened the second half and battled to a 50-46 lead with 12:40 left to play. The shooting dried up too soon for the Spartans, however, as they were then handed a commanding 20-1 run by the Bears, as the team was unable to find the middle of the hoop from the floor for over seven minutes.
That was enough for the Bears, who were able to hold out when the Spartans mustered up a 9-0 run, as Washington University went home with their eighth straight win. “We needed to play at a higher level than we did for 40 minutes against an opponent like Washington University,” McDonnell said.
Julien Person provided the spark needed for the Spartans to get back on track as he lead a motivated CWRU team to a 77-58 victory over the University of Chicago. Person scored a career high of 30 points, which he nicely complimented with eight rebounds, three assists, three blocks and two steals. McLoughlin and Thompson contributed their share to the victory with 24 points between the two of them, and 16 rebounds and five blocks for Thompson.
Both teams started sloppy and only managed 51 points between them by the half. The Spartans used the lack of pressure to get into a good rhythm and pieced together a 19-7 run over nine minutes of play which led to their 30-21 lead at the half.
The second half was very different, as the Spartans charged out of the locker room for a 12-5 run to go up by 16 points. Person came alive in the second half, recording 23 of his 30 points in the second half. The Maroons would have cut the lead in half and climb to within eight, but Person’s sharp shooting took away any hope of a Chicago comeback.
“Julien is our most versatile player, and I was really proud of his performance on Sunday. He played incredibly well,” said McDonnell.
The Spartans will remain at home for a second-straight UAA home weekend playing Brandeis on Friday and New York University on Sunday. The Spartans look to capitalize on their stellar performance on Sunday and climb back into UAA standings. The Spartans will be looking for the continued support of the campus community as they look toward the rest of the season. “I thought the crowd was outstanding. Our players really appreciate that type of atmosphere,” McDonnell said. “Hopefully it will be like this again this Friday versus Brandeis.”