The Case Western Reserve University women’s basketball team will open their conference home schedule today, Friday Jan. 20, at 6 p.m. against Emory University. The Spartans are on a two game winning streak after dropping their first conference game of the season.
Case (10-4, 2-1) won both of their games last weekend on the road as they topped New York University 57-42 and Brandeis 50-46. The wins left them in a five way tie for first place in the conference. Emory (12-2, 2-1) comes to Cleveland after dropping a heartbreaker to No. 7 Washington University 56-53 last Friday and beating the University of Chicago 80-64 on Sunday. Case and Emory will also both face a pair of teams with a 2-1 conference record on Sunday as the Spartans will host the University of Rochester and Emory will travel to Carnegie Mellon. A win for the Spartans in either of those games will be crucial for the Spartans to keep pace with the top teams in the conference.
The Spartans will be led by senior guard Evy Iacono who has won the past two UAA Player of the Week awards giving her three on the season. Iacono, who set the program record for points in a single game with 37 points earlier this season, currently leads the UAA with 19.5 points per game. Iacono has been a scoring dynamo this season raising her average over seven points from last season. She is ranked 21st in the nation in scoring.
The building block for the Spartan offense comes in the form of senior guard Erica Iafelice who is tied for the conference lead with 5.6 assists per game. In addition to leading the conference the total also puts Iaflice 11th in the nation in assists per game. Iafelice and Iacono have started in the Case backcourt since their freshmen years and their chemistry has been a driving force in the Spartans recent success.
Defensively senior Emily Mueller has been dominating in the paint, leading the UAA with 2.5 blocks per game, which is 21st in the nation. Mueller and the Spartans are also tops in the UAA in team blocks with five per game and are 25th in the country.
The biggest problem for the Spartans will be how their seventh ranked scoring defense is able to stop the top ranked Eagle offense. The Eagles are averaging a conference best 74.1 points per game and have an astonishing scoring margin of 20.6 points per game, which is tenth in Division III. The Spartans are currently allowing 58.7 points per game and will need to figure out a way to stop the explosive Eagle offense if they hope to win.
A big help for the Spartans if they find themselves behind late in the game is the Eagles’ abysmal free throw shooting. Emory currently makes just 59.4 percent of their shots from the charity stripe, last in the UAA and 384th in the country.
For the Spartans to give themselves a chance to win they’ll need to slow down the game and force the Eagles to play at a slower pace. Emory has 1004 field goal attempts so far this season, nearly 100 more than the next closest team in the UAA and 120 more than the Spartans. The Eagles 71.7 shots per game dwarf the Spartans 63.1 but the Case has been slightly more effective shooting-wise, making 41 percent of their shots, to Emory’s 40.1 percent.
The Spartans will tip off at 6 p.m. on Friday in the Horsburgh Gymnasium in the Veale Center. Case will also host Rochester on Sunday at 2 p.m.