Men’s basketball extends winning streak with two road wins
“I think everyone just started clicking, and that started the winning streak. Going into the game, you can have it where any one of our starters with a couple guys on the bench can carry the team,” senior forward Chris Klimek said. “When you have players that can do that, it makes it easy to flow and play together and I think that’s really the reason why we have made this run so far and hopefully continue to make this run.”
Against Case Western on Friday, the Red and Green relied on a huge second-half run to secure the victory. After leading 33-28 at halftime, the Bears found themselves trailing 50-46 with just more than 11 minutes remaining, but the Bears reeled off a 20-1 run to take a commanding 66-51 lead. Although Klimek and senior guard Alan Aboona combined for 18 points during the stretch, Bears’ head coach Mark Edwards pointed to a key defensive substitution off the bench that sparked the run.
“We made an adjustment putting [junior guard] David Fatoki in, who really did a great job of guarding their guards off the screens, and they couldn’t get into their offense,” Edwards said. “Once they couldn’t get into their offense, then they start taking bad shots, and we started dominating the boards and the whole thing just fell into place.”
While Case Western cut the deficit to 66-60 with a 9-0 run, the Bears held off a late Spartan surge to earn the victory. The three senior starters—Aboona, Klimek and Tim Cooney— carried the Bears down the stretch by scoring the team’s final 34 points of the game.
Klimek led the Red and Green with 26 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, Cooney tallied 18 points and three steals, and Aboona chipped in with 12 points and eight assists. Wash. U. shot a 44.8 field-goal percentage while limiting Case Western to 34.9-percent shooting.
On Sunday, the Bears closed out a high-scoring first half with a 48-41 advantage over Carnegie. Junior forward Matt Palucki scored 17 points and shot 4-of-4 on three-pointers, and Klimek added 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half. The Bears shot 60 percent from both the field and behind the arc in the first half. On the other hand, Carnegie shot 60.7 percent from the field, but the Bears forced 10 turnovers. The Bears never conceded the lead in the second half partly because of their 27-of-31 free-throw shooting.
Wash. U. dismantled the Carnegie defense with balanced scoring as five players scored in double figures. Palucki finished with 27 points while Klimek added 22, and off the bench, sophomore forward Brandon Staffeil emerged as a key contributor with a career-high 12 points.
“It’s hard to stop us when we have five different guys in our offense score in double digits, and it’s not necessarily the same five guys every game. It’s difficult to prepare against us, and when we can move the ball as well as we do, we can find the open man,” Aboona said. “Carnegie really tried to pressure us in the passing lane to stop our flow on offense, so we broke away from our structured offense and just played.”
The No. 8 Bears improved to 14-2 on the season and 5-0 in the University Athletic Association conference. Next weekend, the Red and Green look to earn two more conference road wins and increase their winning streak to double digits.
“It’s really important to ourselves to prove that we can go on the road and get tough wins. It was our first true road test, and we came up victorious in both of them,” Aboona said.