Edwards notches 600th win in first of two home victories

| Sports Editor

Stephen Huber | Student Life

Senior Alan Aboona capitalizes on an Emory turnover in the second half. Klimek and Aboona each finished with 25 points in the game.

As the buzzer sounded, 1,911 fans roared while a wave of “600” signs could be seen across the Field House, and men’s basketball players embraced head coach Mark Edwards as he notched his 600th career victory on Friday against University of Rochester.  

Fourth-ranked Washington University defeated Rochester 77-61 and then earned a 94-80 victory over Emory University on Sunday to improve to 18-2 overall and 9-0 in the University Athletic Association this season.

“The key part was that the game meant something. It meant something to help us win a conference championship and an opportunity to get into the NCAAs, so that to me was the big part,” Edwards said. “The fact that this team has scrapped and worked so hard—they deserve to be that team that represents that milestone. To see the signs and all that was very heartwarming and made me feel good, but it also brought back a lot of memories of the kids that have gone into all of these wins.”

Edwards’ 600th win wasn’t the only milestone of the night. Senior forward Chris Klimek, who scored 23 points, became the 21st Washington University men’s basketball player to join the 1,000-point club when he tipped in a shot off of a missed free throw. Even though Klimek sat out his entire freshman year with an injury, he was still able to surpass the 1,000-point plateau.

“It was real hard freshman year just being on the bench and thinking, will I ever be able to play basketball again and all that, but looking back, I’m so happy I stayed here at Wash. U. I have the best friends on this team, and they deserve a lot of [these] 1,000 points because they are the ones who get me open and pass the ball, so I give it to them, but it’s definitely a huge honor to have and I’m grateful to have it,” Klimek said.  

The Bears trailed Rochester 23-20 with 10 minutes left in the half, but senior center Will Patt’s six straight points during an 11-3 run resulted in a 31-26 lead, and the Bears extended their lead to 41-34 by halftime.

In the second half, the Bears went on a 12-3 run to take a commanding 71-53 lead with fewer than five minutes to go. Junior forward Matt Palucki executed a three-point play to push the lead to 77-56, and Edwards substituted in the bench players as the Bears coasted to a 16-point victory.

On Sunday, the Bears relied on 25 points apiece from Klimek and senior guard Alan Aboona to pull away from Emory. After establishing a 38-29 lead, the Bears entered halftime tied at 40 after an 11-2 Emory run.

The Red and Green responded in the second half with increased physicality and toughness, which generated a 17-9 run to start the half. Aboona then made a three-pointer to give the Bears an 11-point lead, but he was called for a technical foul for taunting. After Emory made the two technical free throws, the Bears took off on a 7-0 surge to break the game open.

“We went into halftime tied, but we weren’t playing our best basketball. We really turned it around in the second half. We were really aggressive with the ball; we weren’t letting them push us around or take aggressive angles, so I think we were able to turn it around that way, and that’s why we started pushing the lead,” Klimek said.

After making only 1 of 13 three-pointers on Friday, the Bears converted on 9-of-18 three-pointers and shot 54.2 percent from the field Sunday. Wash. U. withstood a 36-point performance from Emory’s Jake Davis and held the Eagles to a 39.4 field goal percentage.

With another Sunday conference victory in hand, the Bears now have a four-game lead in the UAA with just five games remaining.

“Our team saying is ‘Sundays in the UAA win the championships,’ so we’ve been able to play really well on Sundays, better than other teams in the conference, so that’s really how we’ve become undefeated in conference and boosted our [conference] lead,” Klimek said.

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