Men’s Basketball Falls in Overtime Thriller to Rochester

Ignas Masiulionis launches a jump shot
Ignas Masiulionis launches a jump shot

The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team lost on Friday night to the University of Rochester 88-86 in overtime at The Palestra in Rochester, New York. The Spartans fall to 8-7 on the season and 1-3 in the University Athletic Association. The Yellowjackets improve to 11-4 and 2-2 in UAA play.

It was the Spartans' first overtime game since the team lost in last season's finale to Carnegie Mellon in overtime, 97-91.

Five Spartans scored in double figures, with junior guard Ignas Masiulionis and sophomore guard Robert Faller (making his first career start), each contributing a team-high 15 points. First-year forward Cole Frilling and sophomore forward Ryan Newton each scored 14 points and junior guard Antonio Ionadi added 11. Faller and senior forward Michael Hollis each collected a team-high seven rebounds.

Down 87-86 with 6.0 seconds to go in overtime, a potential go-ahead shot from Frilling fell short. Following a Rochester free throw, a game-winning three-pointer from Faller hit the rim and the Spartans fell on the road, 88-86.

Fouls were a major factor in the game, with seven players from the two teams fouling out. Frilling, the Spartans' leading scorer entering the game, missed most of the first half after picking up his third foul just 10 minutes into the contest. Newton, Hollis, and junior guard Michael Volkening fouled out in the second half as well. Case Western Reserve and Rochester combined to take 83 foul shots. The Spartans held an advantage at the charity stripe, making 70.5% of their shots (31-of-44) to Rochester's 59.0% (23-of-39).

Though CWRU trailed by 11 early in the second half, the team would not quit and forced overtime on the road. Masiulionis led the charge, scoring nine of his 15 points in the final 4:42 of the second half, including the game-tying jumper with 9.8 seconds left in regulation.

Ionadi tied the game at 79 with 3:18 left in overtime, but the Spartans never led in overtime. Rochester responded with a 4-0 run. Masiulionis then made a free throw to cut the deficit to three; however, the Yellowjackets scored four straight points to lead by seven with 33 seconds to go. After Faller completed a four-point play, the Spartans forced a turnover on the next possession. With 24.2 seconds left, Masiulionis made two free throws to put the score at 87-86 in favor of Rochester. Following a defensive stop, the Spartans could not make the game-winning basket to steal the game on the road.

Case Western Reserve started the game with a 6-2 run in the first three minutes. The Yellowjackets claimed an 18-11 lead midway through the half with a 13-2 run of their own. The Spartans cut into the deficit, and Ionadi tied the game at 18 with two free throws. Newton then put the team ahead 23-19 with two free throws and a three-pointer to cap a 12-1 Spartan run. It would be the last time CWRU led in the contest as Rochester ended the half on a 15-4 run to take a 34-27 lead into the break. 

After Rochester went ahead by 11 early in the second half, three-pointers from Frilling and Faller cut the Spartan deficit to just three, 42-39. Over the next few minutes, the Yellowjackets maintained an advantage but could not pull away. With eight minutes to go in the game, Faller made a jumper to put the score at 58-54. The Spartans came as close as three points, 59-56, after Frilling made a free throw, but Rochester finally found a rhythm offensively and opened a nine-point lead with under five minutes to play. However, Case Western Reserve eventually tied the game at 74 with under 10 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.

The Spartans blocked six shots in the contest, with Faller and Newton each registering two blocks, while the Yellowjackets blocked none.

CWRU will continue its UAA road trip on Sunday, January 26 when the team travels to Atlanta, Georgia to face Emory University. Tipoff at the Woodruff P.E. Center is scheduled for noon.