Spartan Men Unable to Complete Comeback, Fall to Chicago in UAA First-Place Thriller

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CLEVELAND – Junior point guard Jimmy Holman (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer) scored a season-high 18 points, but the Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team fell short in an University Athletic Association first-place showdown with the University of Chicago, 79-73, in front of a packed house at Horsburgh Gymnasium.

The Spartans (14-5, 5-3 UAA) suffer their first home loss of the season (8-1) and fall back into a tie for second in the conference. The Maroons (14-4, 6-2 UAA) sweep the season series with CWRU and grab sole possession of first place.

Holman's 18 points were accompanied by a game-best eight assists. Four other Spartans scored in double-figures led by freshman forward Eric Black (Avon Lake, Ohio/Saint Ignatius) with 14.

Chicago was led by Alex Voss with 22 points and seven rebounds. Tyler Howard (14), Jordan Smith (14) and Waller Perez (12) also reached double-digits.

The Spartans, who trailed almost the entire way, came all the way back from a 15-point deficit and had the ball down by just three in the final seconds.

The deficit began right out of the gate as the Maroons jumped out to the early advantage. The visitors used back-to-back three-pointers from Smith and Perez to bump their lead to 19-10 with 13:52 on the clock. The CWRU deficit then grew to 12 on three separate occasions, but late in the half, the Spartans utilized a 9-4 run to pull within 42-37 as Holman hit a jumper at 2:42. By halftime, the Maroons bumped the advantage back to seven, at 47-40.

In the second, Chicago controlled the pace in the early minutes and increased its lead to a game-high 15, at 67-52, when Nate Brooks converted a layup with 9:33 remaining. Out of a timeout, the Spartans rallied with a 7-0 run to pull within 67-59 as senior guard Julien Person (Paris, France/Second Baptist, Texas) hit a pair of free throws at 7:44. Five minutes later, the Horsburgh crowd erupted when Black threw down his second consecutive two-handed slam to cut the deficit to 75-71 with 2:12 left to play.

After several empty possessions, the Spartans pulled even closer when a Black put-back found its way into the net, bringing the count to 75-73 with just 1:08 remaining. One Chicago free throw with 12 seconds on the clock gave the Spartans possession with a chance to tie, but a missed layup and subsequent Chicago rebound led to the clinching free throws.  

While most of the team stats in the game were close, the Maroons held a decided edge in three-pointers, hitting 11 compared to just three for the usually efficient-shooting Spartans. 

The Spartans wrap up the weekend at home this Sunday, February 8 with a 12:00 p.m. tip-off against No. 12 nationally ranked Washington University (Mo.).