Stop the bleeding. That was all head coach Mike Neer had in mind as the Yellowjackets returned to Rochester after a punishing road-trip and a disturbing three game losing streak. The Yellowjackets were able to stem the flow of blood and land a string of important victories at the Palestra as UR defeated UAA rivals Case Western Reserve University and Emory University to improve their record to 15-3 overall and 5-2 in the UAA. The Yellowjackets went head to head with the CWRU Spartans Friday night before a crowd of 800, looking to snap a three game losing skid. The Spartans looked self-assured in the opening moments of the contest, matching a 7-0 run by UR with an offensive surge of their own to pull within one of the Yellowjackets.

The Spartans threatened to overtake the Yellowjackets in the closing moments of the first half with a seven point rally that was matched only by a jump shot from junior forward Brian Jones. A foul by senior guard Jeff Joss with less than a minute remaining in the half awarded a pair of free throws to Spartan Brenton Bonner, who gave CWRU the lead at 38-37 for the first time since the game’s opening seconds.

With 12 seconds remaining on the game clock, Dave Lenser of CWRU fouled junior Andy Larkin and gave the forward to retake the lead before the halftime break. Larkin made the first and missed the second, leaving the score knotted at 38.

“I don’t think we defended very well,” Neer said. “I challenged the team to put forth a better effort and do a better job of defending.”

UR made a quick spurt at the game’s resumption, taking their lead into double digits 58-47 with a three-point basket by senior guard Justin Hughes. “We introduced a new offensive play that we went over for the first time in practice two days earlier, which allowed us to take the ten point lead,” remarked Neer. CWRU responded with a trifecta of their own, but pairs of free throws from Larkin and sophomore guard Gabe Perez eased the Yellowjackets into a comfortable lead which they were able to maintain for the remainder of the game. UR’s 16 points off turnovers helped it cruise to a 77-63 victory.

The Yellowjackets were back in business the following Sunday with a convincing 92-74 victory over the Emory Eagles in which five members of the UR squad netted double figures. Joss led the way with 22 points and six three-pointers.

UR got a quick start and never looked back, doubling their opponents score less than ten minutes into the first half. There was little competition with the Yellowjackets going 20-33 on field goals and shooting 77.8 percent from the three-point line before halftime.

The Yellowjackets were at the top of their form in the second half, building on their already substantial lead. Hauben had a lay-up off the opening tip off to increase UR’s lead over Emory to twenty points. The Yellowjackets had their greatest lead of the game with 12:30 remaining on the clock when Sweeney sank a three-pointer to put UR 23 points over the opposition, 75-52.

The Eagles never presented a threat to the Yellowjackets during the remainder of the contest allowing UR to savor a satisfying victory. “We were able to get good shots all day both up the post and wide open perimeter shots,” Neer said.

“Emory has some very dangerous one-on-one players and I don’t believe the game at Emory will be anywhere as easy,” Neer said of this Sunday’s rematch.

The wounds appear to be healing for the Yellowjackets, but Neer agrees the team needs to focus on defense and the nuts and bolts of UR’s method of play. “Both teams shot over 50 percent against us, which is the first time that has happened this season,” Neer said.

The pair of weekend wins moves UR two spots up in the www.d3hoops.com national rankings to number 11, but it’s dj vu all over again as the team packs up for Atlanta and Cleveland to take on CWRU and Emory, respectively, in a pair of UAA rematches.

Schloss can be reached at aschloss@campustimes.org.



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