Spartan Women Fall Short in Upset Bid of No. 2 Chicago

Erica Iafelice finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in the near upset of Chicago. (photo courtesy of Ryan Baker)
Erica Iafelice finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five assists in the near upset of Chicago. (photo courtesy of Ryan Baker)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Despite possessing a nine-point halftime advantage over No. 2-nationally ranked University of Chicago (Ill.), the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team couldn't hold as the Maroons spoiled the Spartans' upset bid in a 62-57 loss during University Athletic Association play on Sunday at Horsburgh Gymnasium.

With the loss, the Spartans slip to 8-6 overall and 1-2 in the UAA, while Chicago remains undefeated improving to 14-0 and 3-0 in league play.

With the game knotted at 6-6 just under four minutes in, Case utilized a 6-0 run finished off by a three-point field goal from senior forward Erin Hollinger (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) at the 12:59 mark. Chicago chipped away at the Spartan lead scoring the next four points making it 12-10 during a five-minute span, but the Spartans responded with a 9-0 run over the ensuing three minutes fueled by a pair of three-pointers by junior guard Erica Iafelice (North Canton, Ohio/Canton Hoover) along with a bucket and a free throw make by senior forward Chelsea Peck (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic).

The Case lead ballooned to as many as 13 on two separate occasions over the waning moments of the opening half before the Maroons answered with the final four points as the Spartans held a 31-22 led at the intermission.

Out of the break, Iafelice scored the opening bucket, once again increasing the hosts lead to double digits at 11 (33-22) with 18:42 left. Not done yet, the Maroons made their run and countered with an 11-0 spurt that spanned the next five minutes knotting the contest, 33-33, with 13:47 remaining.

In a game that saw a total of seven ties, including five in the second stanza, the two sides continued to trade baskets as the Spartans trailed by just one, at 50-49, with 3:57 showing on the second-half clock following a pair of Hollinger free-throw makes. However, over the next 1:54 of play, the Maroons manufactured a 7-0 run to push their lead to eight. Case was able to cut it to five numerous times, but that is as close as it would get as Chicago hung on for the victory.

Both teams were efficient at the charity stripe, as Case knocked down 16-of-20 attempts (80 percent), while Chicago cashed in on 27-of-31 (87.1%). Additionally, free throws accounted for 23 of the Maroons' final 29 points.

Individually, three Spartans finished in double-figures. Senior guard Evy Iacono (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame) and Hollinger each tallied 14 points, while Iacono pulled down a team-high eight rebounds. Iafelice added 11 points, five rebounds and a game-best five assists, while Peck added nine markers and four boards.

As a team, the Spartans tied a season-high knocking down seven three-point field goals, and shot a season-best .412 (7-of-17) from beyond the arc. Defensively, the hosts limited Chicago to a season-low of 28.1% (16-of-57) from the field and 16.7% (3-of-18) from three-point territory.

Morgan Herrick led four Maroons in double-figures with 14 along with five rebounds. Taylor Simpson, Joann Torres and Meghan Herrick each added 11, while Simpson pulled down eight rebounds.