On Sunday afternoon, the Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team upset the 14th-ranked University of Chicago 77-71 at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio to extend their winning streak to six games. The Spartans are now 8-6 overall and 3-0 in University Athletic Association play. The Maroons, who saw their 10-game winning streak come to an end, fell to 11-3 overall and 2-1 in the UAA.
The win marked the Spartans seventh straight at home this season and eighth consecutive at home dating back to last season. The six straight wins overall match the fourth-longest streak in program history.
The Spartans' 77 points mark the second-most allowed by the Maroons this season, and were well above their 60.3 allowed per game, as CWRU pushed the pace throughout the victory. Five Spartans scored in double figures, with sophomore guard/forward Abbey Lawrence leading the team with 17. First-year guard/forward Isabella Mills scored 12 and first-year guard McKenna Gross, sophomore guard Alyssa Hyland, and graduate student Melissa Heath each added 10 points. Heath collected a team-high seven rebounds, and Gross led the squad with five assists.
Case Western Reserve opened the game with an early 6-3 lead, stifling the Maroon attack and holding them without a field goal for the first 6:07. Chicago cut the CWRU lead to one, 10-9, but Hyland responded with a layup and three-pointer to give the Spartans a five-point advantage with under two minutes to go in the first quarter. Though the Maroons battled back to within one, Mills drained a three-pointer on the final possession of the quarter to give the Spartans a 20-14 lead at the first break. Six Spartans scored in the opening quarter, with Hyland leading the way at five points.
Early in the second quarter, Case Western Reserve opened an eight-point advantage, but Chicago cut it to four a few minutes later. Hyland made a three-pointer, and Mills followed with a layup to put the Spartans up 31-22. The Maroons' relentless attack cut the CWRU lead down to five again midway through the second quarter.
A three-pointer from senior guard Alicia Marie Gonzales ended the Chicago run and put CWRU back up eight. The Maroons came within three, 36-33, with under two minutes to go in the half, but Lawrence responded with a layup following an offensive rebound, Mills drained a three-pointer, and Gross followed with a layup on the final possession to put the Spartans up 43-33 at the half.
A layup from junior forward Emma Cain three minutes into the third quarter capped a 15-5 Spartan run over the two quarters, giving CWRU a 15-point lead, the largest of the afternoon. Cain's season-high three steals in the contest paced the Spartans. Chicago cut the deficit to single digits a few minutes later, trailing by just three following a 12-0 run. Lawrence stopped the run with a layup with under three minutes to go in the quarter, putting the score at 55-50 in favor of CWRU. At the end of the third, Chicago cut the deficit to just one, 57-56.
A Chicago layup to open the fourth quarter put the Spartans down for the first time since they were down 1-0 early in the first quarter. Cain tied the game at 59 with a layup at 6:34 and Mills put the Spartans on top with a layup of her own on the team's next possession. A Chicago three-pointer put the Maroons up one in response.
Heath scored three points on the Spartans' next two possessions to give CWRU a 64-62 lead with 3:38 to go. Over the next few minutes, the Spartans would go ahead by two multiple times, but Chicago would respond each time to tie the score. Heath made a free throw with 1:37 to play to put Case Western Reserve up one, 69-68, a lead they would not relinquish.
With 28.5 seconds left, Chicago made a free throw to cut the CWRU lead to 71-69. Mills responded with two free throws with 26.5 seconds left to increase the Spartan advantage to four. Following a Chicago turnover on the next possession, Heath made two clutch free throws with 19.2 seconds left to put the Spartans up 75-69 and clinch the upset win. Eight of Heath's 10 points came in the final 4:13 of the contest.
CWRU held Chicago to just 33.3% shooting from the field while making 44.4% of their own shots. The Spartan bench outscored their Maroon counterparts 30-8.
Case Western Reserve will next travel to Rochester, New York to take on the University of Rochester on Friday, January 24 to start their first UAA road trip of the season. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Louis Alexander Palestra. The Spartans will then travel to Atlanta, Georgia to face Emory on Sunday, January 26 for a battle between the two current conference leaders. That game will tip off at 2 p.m.