At 15-7 overall and 6-5 in the University Athletic Association, the ‘Jackets are still in consideration to make the tournament but will need strong play during their final three games in order to remain a viable candidate for an at-large bid.
‘It’s tough losing two at home,” senior point guard Max Kaplan said. ‘But we need to look ahead to these next three games, and forget about last weekend if we want to make the tournament.”
This past Friday in the Louis Alexander Palestra, it was the Violets of New York University who proved to be too much for UR.
Despite a solid performance by senior swingman Mike Chmielowiec who had 30 points, four rebounds and three assists NYU built up a 10-point halftime lead and never let go, winning by a final score of 86-72.
The Violets had a strong shooting performance they went 52.6 percent from the floor, 47.8 percent from behind the arc and 88.2 percent from the charity stripe.
NYU captain center John Mish scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds to lead his team to its 14th win of the season.
Sophomore forward Richie Polan shot a perfect six-for-six from the field, including three 3-pointers, adding 19 points to the Violets’ total.
The ‘Jackets pulled to within five points of NYU on a Chmielowiec 3-pointer with 7:44 to play, but 67-62 was as close as they would ever come.
Freshman center Nate Novosel added 11 points for UR. Sophomore Marcus Roberson scored nine to go with his team-high five rebounds.
Even in the loss, UR’s strong senior leadership was evident. Kaplan dished out nine assists over 38 minutes, and his classmate Chmielowiec played for 39 of the game’s 40 minutes.
On Sunday, the Brandeis University Judges came to the Palestra and left with an 80-63 victory over the Yellowjackets.
For the second-straight game, UR encountered a remarkable shooting effort by the visiting team, who turned a 53-51 halftime lead into a 17-point victory.
Brandeis 14-8 overall, 7-4 in the UAA shot an incredible 52.9 percent from behind the arc and converted on 54.4 percent of all shots from the field.
Captain Steve DeLuca scored 17 points for the Judges and became the seventh player in Brandeis history to reach the 1,500-point mark.
Chmielowiec led all scorers, tallying 18 points on Sunday. Junior guard Colin Cubit the newest member of the ‘Jackets’ starting lineup scored 13 points, including three 3-pointers. Novosel scored nine points, shooting three for four from the field and three-for-three from the line.
He added three blocks to his team-high total of 21 this season.
Kaplan had seven assists on Sunday, bringing his season total to 157 (7.1 per game). He has had an impressive 364 assists during his career at UR.
The Yellowjackets will head out for their final road trip of the season this weekend, playing the University of Chicago on Friday night and then heading to Missouri to take on Washington University in St. Louis on Sunday.
Wash U clinched the UAA title this past weekend with wins over Emory University and Case Western Reserve University.
UR is eager for another shot at Wash U the defending national champions after the team lost to the Bears, 73-42, on Jan. 20.
This time, the Yellowjackets will have their top-scorer, Chmielowiec, on the court he missed the last matchup against Wash U due to injury.
The ‘Jackets were 10-2 following a five-game win-streak in early January but have gone 5-5 in their last 10 games. The skid started with a loss to St. John Fisher College in the semi-finals of the Chase Tournament on Jan. 16.
‘We just need to forget about the past and play good basketball, one game at a time,” Chmielowiec said following Sunday’s loss. ‘We have no control over anything other than winning the three games we have left.”
UR will return to the Palestra for its final game of the regular season next Saturday against the Tartans of Carnegie Mellon University.
Chmielowiec and Kaplan will be playing in their final regular season games. The ‘Jackets last played CMU in early December and walked away with a 58-55 loss.
Starr is a member of the class of 2009.