Spartans' Streak Ends with Loss at Rochester

Spartans' Streak Ends with Loss at Rochester

The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team saw its eight-game winning streak come to a close on Monday afternoon, as the Spartans fell to the University of Rochester 72-64 in Rochester, New York.

The loss was the first University Athletic Association setback of the season for the Spartans, who dropped to 4-1 in the conference to fall into sole possession second place in the league and to 12-4 overall.  Rochester improved to 7-9 overall, including a 1-4 UAA record.

Senior guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann led the Spartans with 26 points on 11-of-22 shooting overall, including a three-of-six performance from behind the three-point line.  She added on 12 rebounds for her eighth double-double of the season, and the 19th of her career.

Graduate student forward Kara Hageman added 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and sophomore forward Emma Cain scored 11 points on Monday, including seven in the third quarter alone to help spur a CWRU comeback during the frame.

The Spartans started slow on Monday, missing their first 10 shots from the floor and allowed the Yellowjackets to open the game on an 11-0 run.  Hellmann stopped the drought with a jumper with 3:31 remaining in the first quarter, starting an 8-0 run for the Spartans that would trim the Rochester lead down to just three with 1:28 left after a second Hellmann basket.  A jumper in the closing minute of the quarter pushed the Yellowjackets' lead back to five, 13-8, by the end of the period. 

The Spartans continued to cut into Rochester's lead in the second period, and a three-pointer by Hellmann with 3:31 left in the half (the first long-range make of the game for CWRU) evened the score at 20-20.  Rochester responded with an 11-2 run to regain the lead, before a jumper at the buzzer by Hageman cut the Yellowjackets' advantage to 31-24 at halftime.

Back-to-back layups by Cain and junior guard Kendall McConico to start the third helped the Spartans cut the Yellowjackets's lead down to three.  Rochester would continue to lead until the 4:32 mark, when a layup by Hellmann knotted the score at 37-37, and a pair of free throws by McConico with 4:09 remaining gave CWRU its first lead of the game, 39-37.  The teams would exchange leads five more times over the remainder of the quarter, before a three by Hageman gave CWRU a 49-47 lead with 24 seconds left, and a free throw in the closing second of the period by Cain gave the Spartans a 50-47 lead at the end of three quarters.

Rochester knocked down the first two buckets of the final quarter to regain the lead, 51-50, and the two teams would continue to exchange leads until the 6:11 mark, when a three-pointer by Lauren Foley put the Yellowjackets in front 59-56.  After a jumper by Hellmann brought the Spartans back within a point, Rochester rallied off an 8-0 run over the next three minutes, building a nine-point advantage, 67-58, with 3:03 to go in the game.  Case Western Reserve made one last run, scoring six-straight points on a layup by Hageman, a free throw by McConico and a three by Hellmann cutting the score to 67-64, but Hellmann's basket proved to be the last points of the game for the Spartans, and Rochester made five-of-six free throws in the final 30 seconds to pull away down the stretch.

The loss for the Spartans, the team's first since a 74-62 setback to Kenyon on December 10th, put an end to a historic stretch for the program.  CWRU's eight-game winning streak was the second-longest in program history, behind only a nine-game stretch during the 2009-10 season, while the four-straight wins to start its UAA schedule match the 2010-11 team for the longest winning streak to begin a UAA campaign.

Rochester's Julianna Okoniewski led the team with 17 points, while Shannon Loiseau scored 15 points and collected 19 rebounds, and Lena Ethington added 14 points and 17 rebounds.

Monday's game was delayed 24 hours from its scheduled start time, after a snow storm moved into the Rochester area on Saturday and Sunday.

Case Western Reserve will be back on the road next weekend, beginning one of the most challenging portions of its scheduled with four-straight games against the 13th-ranked University of Chicago, and current UAA leader Washington University.  The Spartans will begin the weekend at Chicago on Friday, January 25th at 7:00 p.m. ET.