Basketball fans help season end on high noteThe men's basketball team had the crowd on its side last Friday at the NCAA Division III Midwest Sectional at Illinois Wesleyan University.
As they fought against Methodist College of North Carolina for the right to become one of the "Elite Eight" teams pursuing a national championship, the Maroons were cheered on by more than 200 students, faculty and friends who made the three-hour drive to Illinois Wesleyan -- including four undergraduate women wearing bikini tops to distract rival free-throw shooters.
But while the Maroons were behind by only one point with 40 seconds left to play, Methodist hung on to beat Chicago 74-70 in a closely fought game that snapped Chicago's 18-game winning streak and ended its post-season play.
"It was a great game, a hard-fought game," said Chicago guard Aaron Horne, a third-year student in the College who was one of five Maroons players to score in double figures.
Chicago finished its dream season last weekend with a 23-5 record -- the most victories for the men's team since it won 27 games in the 1919-20 season, and the third most victories in the program's 93-year history -- and its first championship in the University Athletic Association.
Chicago began its first post-season competition in two decades with victories over Benedictine University (59-52) and a second-round victory over Wabash College (78-70). "I'm ready for next year to start right now," said Head Coach Pat Cunningham, noting that there are no seniors on the team's roster and that top scorers against Methodist included third-year students Horne, Rusty Loyd and Matt Morycz.
Cunningham and Methodist coach Bob McEvoy were impressed with the level of support displayed by Maroon fans -- including the attempts of the four bikini-clad students to distract Methodist from hitting crucial free throws during the final minutes of play.
"We talk to our guys about concentration and staying focused," McEvoy said to the Chicago Sun-Times after the game. "But when you've got daggone Cindy Crawford and Bo Derek standing there, that's a whole new test."
For information about post-season play, plus player profiles and season statistics, see the Men's Basketball Web page at athletics.uchicago.edu/men_basketball/mbasketball.html.