ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The University of Chicago rode the hot hand of Jordan Smith to a big first half lead, then held off the University of Rochester down the stretch for a 72-63 victory at the Louis Alexander Palestra on Friday night.
Smith scored a career high 29 points, including seven three point goals. He had all seven of those in the first half enroute to 23 points as the Maroons built a 37-26 lead at halftime.
Chicago stays in sole possession of first place in the University Athletic Association with a 7-3 league record (15-6 overall). Rochester is two games back at 5-5 UAA, 9-12 overall. Emory and NYU are both 6-4. Rochester, Case, and Washington are all 5-5. Chicago visits Emory on Sunday and can take a big step towards the UAA title. The UAA is the only Division III league without a post-season tournament.
Alex Voss added 10 points for Chicago to accompany five assists. Nate Brooks had seven points, six coming on dunks, and a game-high 10 rebounds.
Sam Borst-Smith led Rochester with 26 points. He also had three assists, five rebounds, and four assists. Tyler Sankes scored 12 points with seven rebounds.
Chicago led by as much as 14 in the first half and was up by 13 points three different times in the second half. A reverse layup by Smith put Chicago in front, 59-47, with 8:33 to go.
Borst-Smith (six points) and Sankes (four) combined for 10 points in a lengthy 14-3 run over five minutes. A layup by Sankes, one free throw from Zack Ayers, and a driving layup by Borst-Smith pulled Rochester within one, 62-61, with 3:26 to go.
Collin Barthels made two foul shots with 3:08 left for a three-point cushion (64-61). The crucial blow came with 1:07 to go. Smith got the ball at the top of the key, darted into the lane and fired a pass to Voss all alone in the left corner. He sank a three-pointer to make the Chicago lead six, 67-61. The Maroons sank five of six from the foul line in the last 41 seconds to wrap up the victory.
Smith was a one-man gang in the first five minutes. He hit four three-pointers and drove for a layup. He had all 14 of Chicago's points and the Maroons held a 14-5 lead.