Men’s basketball closes out regular season with big win

| Sports Editor

The week after clinching the conference title and a bid to the NCAA tournament, the No. 24 Washington University men’s basketball team trounced rival University of Chicago in its regular season finale.

The Bears did not trail after the 10:14 mark in the first half of Saturday’s game and spoiled the Maroons’ Senior Day with a 73-60 road win, extending their all-time series lead to 44-17.

The Red and Green finished the regular season with a 19-6 overall record and an 11-3 mark in University Athletic Association play. The team is No. 1 in the NCAA Midwest Region rankings.

“We had a lot of fun going to the game because we had already clinched the playoffs, so we had nothing to lose,” sophomore guard Tim Cooney said.

Perhaps a little bit too much fun—the Bears received a technical foul for dunking during pre-game warm-ups.

But the team’s casual demeanor did not hurt its play. The Bears burned the Maroons inside to gain an early advantage. Down 19-18, they scored 10 points in the paint during a 12-0 run and headed into halftime with a 38-27 lead. They stretched the advantage to 18 points on a Richter three-pointer with 13:30 remaining, and Chicago came within 10 only once for the duration of the contest.

The Bears outscored the Maroons 32-18 in the paint and outrebounded them 48-35 in total.

Head coach Mark Edwards called his team’s interior presence, especially on the boards, “a big strength for us this year.” The Bears have outrebounded opponents in 20 of 25 games this season.

“I think rebounding [is a] big factor for us,” Edwards said. “It has been all year. If you look at how we do when we outrebound our opponents, you’ll see why it’s so important for us to show in that area.”

Wash. U. stifled the Chicago offense, holding the Maroons to 32.3 percent shooting. Chicago’s Matt Johnson entered the game averaging a UAA-best 20.6 points per game, but he scored just 11 points on four of 14 shooting against the defense of Cooney.

“I actually have gotten to guard him the past two years,” Cooney said. “I guarded him both games last year as a freshman and this year, and honestly, it’s my favorite game every year just because I get to guard him.”

Senior guard Dylan Richter scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his second career double-double. Sophomore guard Alan Aboona (13 points), sophomore forward Chris Klimek (13 points) and senior center Alex Toth (11 points) also scored in double figures. Aboona added seven rebounds and seven assists in 27 minutes of play.

Chicago was without its second-leading scorer Steve Stefanou, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the teams’ first matchup on Jan. 7, a 79-72 Wash. U. win.

The NCAA tournament selection show airs on Monday at 11 a.m. Wash. U. players will gather for the event in the DUC Fun Room.

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