The men’s basketball team’s 14-game winning streak came to an unexpected end in the first round of the JPMorgan Chase Tournament last week.

UR eventually finished sixth in the tournament, but rebounded with a 98-53 win Sunday over Case Western Reserve University. The Yellowjackets are still undefeated in the University Athletic Association and are tied for first place with Washington University at 5-0.

“We’re all disappointed in how the Chase turned out,” coach Mike Neer said. “However, winning the Chase Tournament, while we would like to have done it, doesn’t guarantee a chance at the national tournament. Winning the UAA puts us in the tournament. In the bigger picture, I would rather be undefeated in the league.”

UR’s easy win over Case Western sets up four crucial games over the next two weekends. The Yellowjackets go on the road this weekend to play Washington at 8 p.m. Friday. UR then must play defending UAA champion University of Chicago, which is currently 4-1 in the league, at 1 p.m. Sunday.

“I think we match up well,” Neer said. “I’ll be disappointed not to come away with at least a win.”

The Yellowjackets then return home to play both teams again. UR hosts Chicago at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 and Washington at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3. Neer is aware that the next two weekends could go a long way toward determining the UAA champion.

“We’re the three top teams in the league and our next four games are all against each other,” Neer said.

UR’s return from winter break was initially successful. The Yellowjackets rolled off three league wins in five days and had a week to prepare for the Chase Tournament. The Yellowjackets drew the No. 2 seed and were scheduled to play the St. John Fisher Cardinals, whom they defeated 74-61 earlier this season.

This time around, Fisher had the home-court advantage and was able to get UR into foul trouble early.

The Yellowjackets trailed 35-33 at halftime, and Fisher’s lead quickly expanded to 12 points in the second half.

Junior guard Tim Sweeney hit a three-pointer to give UR a one-point lead with 4:47 left, but Matt Morley responded with a three-pointer of his own just nine seconds later to restore Fisher’s lead.

“To work all that way back and to have a big lead and then only for nine seconds was a big turn for Fisher,” Neer said.

UR had to foul as the game neared the end and Fisher made nine of 10 free throws in the final minute en route to a 72-67 victory.

UR beat up on an overmatched Nazareth team in the second round and advanced to the fifth-place game with a 71-48 victory.

Junior Jeff Joss did an excellent job guarding forward Jim Evans, who scored 33 points in Nazareth’s 78-77 loss to UR earlier this season.

The next day, UR got dominated inside for the first time all season in a 66-53 loss to Roberts Wesleyan.

“They just kicked us around,” Neer said. “They just kind of cleaned their shoes off on us down there.”

Senior center Joe Rebisz scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. UR was unable to get back into the game after falling behind 22-11 halfway into the first half.

“I don’t think we played poorly against Fisher and I don’t think we played poorly against Roberts,” Neer said. “There’s some fundamental basics that need improvement. They appear to be little things, but little things make the difference.”

UR dominated every aspect of the game against Case to salvage the weekend.

“I did not expect to have as easy a time as we did with Case,” Neer said. “It was good to come out of that four-games-in-five-days string with a win and a win in which everybody played well.”

Jacobs can be reached at bjacobs@campustimes.org.



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