After failing to topple the top-of-the-UAA-class Yellowjackets this season, many teams found themselves desperately hoping for a UR loss last Sunday, Feb. 15, in one of the final games of the regular season.
Instead, all these teams got was more of the same, as the yellow and blue squashed the Case Western Reserve University Tartans, 95-85, to wrap up the UAA crown.
For the many fans hoping for an epic matchup between the league’s two premier teams — one that would decide this year’s UAA title — Sunday was a disappointment. The Emory Eagles held a two-point lead over Carnegie Mellon University at halftime before being upset by the Tartans (4-9 in the UAA) 72-70 in overtime. The loss was a fatal blow to the Eagles’ chances at the crown, as they fell to 10-3 with only their game with Rochester left to play.
With a record of 12-1, UR has little to worry about concerning their game with Emory next week.
With the title locked up, the Yellowjackets claimed an automatic berth at the NCAA Tournament — something that hasn’t happened since 2007-08 — and their first UAA title since the 2004-05 season.
UR found itself down 47-43 at halftime thanks to a red-hot first 20 minutes of play on the part of the Spartans. Case hit seven of eight (87.5 percent) from beyond the arc in the half.
In similar style to their comeback win over Carnegie Mellon earlier in the weekend, however, the ‘Jackets used a second-half surge to blow by the opposition late in the game.
Senior David Gould, who was one of four UR players to score double-digits, ignited the rally by scoring on a quick lay up and free throw with 13:55 to play in the game. Junior Chris Dende mimicked his teammate’s performance with a lay up and free throw of his own and was immediately followed up by a lay up from sophomore Rob Reid.
This was coupled with two more Dende free throws. Reid threw in two more to extend the ‘Jackets’ lead to 66-58 with 11:23 to go.
The Spartans would come no closer than that for the remainder of the game.
With UR up 78-70 and 2:29 remaining in regulation, sophomore John DiBartolomeo hit both free throws, and two more lay ups from junior Nate Novosel were all the visitors needed to do away with Case.
DiBartolomeo led the ‘Jackets with 26 points and was perfect from the free-throw line, going 12 for 12. Novosel threw in 19 points and seven rebounds, while Dende had 13 points.
In addition to his team’s seizing of the league title, coach Luke Flockerzi won the 50th game of his 100-game career as a college head coach. In his first season as the ‘Jackets’ head coach (he coached at Skidmore College last season), Flockerzi has led UR to one of their most successful regular seasons in school history. Their twenty-win season marks only the tenth time the home team has reached that milestone. The team will look to add to this legacy in the postseason.
Bernstein is a member of the class of 2014.