The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team cut a 16 point deficit to start the fourth quarter to just four points with three minutes to play, but the University of Chicago was able to pull away late for a 87-74 win in Chicago, Illinois on Friday night.
With the loss, the Spartans fell to 11-8 overall and to 3-5 in the University Athletic Association, while Chicago raised its record to 13-6 overall and remained in first-place in the league with a 6-2 conference mark.
Four Spartans scored in double figures on Friday night, led by a 21 point effort from sophomore guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann, who scored 21 points on an eight-of-15 shooting effort, including a three-of-six mark from behind the three-point line. Hellmann also collected a team-best seven rebounds, and added three steals in the game.
Senior guard Jess McCoy finished the game with 17 points, four rebounds, three assists and five steals, and junior forward Kara Hageman totaled 15 points and six steals. Freshman guard Alicia Marie Gonzales scored 10 points to round out Case Western Reserve's double-digit scorers.
Britta Nordstrom led Chicago with 23 points and nine rebounds, while Elizabeth Nye came off the bench to add 13 points in the game.
Friday's game features extended runs for both teams throughout the contest. Hageman provided the offense early for the Spartans, scoring six of the team's first eight points, and keeping CWRU within two, 10-8, with 6:45 left in the first quarter. However, the Maroons would take advantage of Spartan turnovers on three-straight possessions, helping to spur a 9-0 run, and give Chicago a 19-8 lead with 4:30 remaining in the quarter. The Maroons' hot shooting would continue through the first quarter, making 14-of-21 shots from the floor, including four-of seven from long range, to take a 34-15 lead into the second period.
After trailing by as many as 20 points early in the second, the Spartans got back on track, cutting the Chicago lead to 10, 42-32, with a 17-7 run, capped off by a three from Alex Roth with 2:51 remaining in the half. The Maroons finished the period strong though, scoring 10 of the final 11 points in the half to carry a 19-point advantage, 52-33, over CWRU into the halftime break.
The Spartans started the second half on an 11-4 run, cutting the lead down to 12, 56-44, with 5:58 left in the third, but the Maroons again closed out the quarter strong, extending the lead back to 19, 66-47, before Hellmann's second three of the quarter trimmed the deficit to 16, 66-50, heading into the final quarter. Hellmann would go on to score 10 of her 21 points in the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter, helping to launch Case Western Reserve on a 20-8 run. A layup by Hageman with 3:07 left pulled CWRU back within four with 3:07 to play, 74-70, as close as the Spartans had been since the 5:12 mark of the first quarter. However, Case Western Reserve committed two key turnovers, the latter an offensive foul with 1:30 left to play, that ultimately opened the door for Chicago to secure the victory, as the Maroons hit nine of 10 free throws down the stretch to put the game out of reach.
With the loss, the Spartans and the Maroons split the season series, after CWRU's 80-78 win in Cleveland last weekend.
The Spartans will wrap-up their brief two-game conference road swing in St. Louis, Missouri on Sunday, February 5th at 3:00 p.m. ET, facing the ninth-ranked Washington University (Mo.) Bears.