The Emory men’s basketball team dominated on Sunday afternoon, earning a 79-48 victory over the University of Chicago Maroons. The Eagles improved to 9-4 on the year and 1-2 in University Athletic Association (UAA) play.
A strong defensive effort helped the Eagles build an imposing 33-6 lead with two minutes left in the first half. Emory held Chicago to just 14.3 percent (4 of 28) from the floor compared to the Eagles’ 43.8 (14 of 32).
“The team was focused early, especially on the defensive end,” said senior forward Michael Friedberg. “Chicago battled back, but we were able to withstand their runs and maintain a large lead.”
Also key in establishing the early lead was the play of senior guard Alex Greven, who contributed an impressive 14 first-half points in 15 minutes. Greven scored the game’s first five points and never looked back, pacing the Eagles on an 11-0 run that spanned five minutes and pushed the lead into double digits.
Emory led 37-13 at halftime and was never seriously threatened the rest of the game. Four straight points by junior forward Jake Davis within the first two minutes of the second half ran the Eagles’ lead to a staggering 26 points.
Just three minutes later the Maroons cut the lead down to 19 points, but Emory responded with a 12-0 run that included five points from Greven and put the game out of reach for good. With four minutes to go the Eagles extended their lead to 77-38, the largest gap of the game.
Head Coach Jason Zimmerman credited the Eagles’ improved defense with holding off Chicago’s runs.
“Defensively, we’ve been a bit better this season,” Zimmerman said. “We’ve always been explosive on offense, but you stop runs with your defense.”
The Eagles finished shooting 45.2 percent (28 of 62) while holding the Maroons to just 22.8 percent (13 of 57). It was a dominant effort on the glass as well, as Emory earned a 50-32 rebounding edge. The Eagles have out-rebounded all of their UAA opponents thus far this season.
Greven finished with a game-high 22 points, his fourth game of the season in which he totaled more than 20. Davis and Friedberg also landed in double digits with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The three players lead the Eagles in scoring on the season as well, with Davis averaging 18.7 points, Greven averaging 15.8 and Friedberg averaging 13.2.
Junior guard McPherson Moore and Greven both led the team with seven rebounds, while Moore added a pair of free throws to run his season streak to 25 straight. Freshman forward Will Trawick contributed one of his best games of the season with seven points on perfect 3 for 3 shooting. Neither Trawick nor Friedberg missed a shot from the field.
In an impressive display of depth, all 16 players who suited up for Emory played, with 10 players scoring points and 12 grabbing rebounds.
“That’s a testament to being up by 30,” Zimmerman said.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak that included a nine-point loss to a fourth-ranked University of Rochester squad and a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of Washington University on a three-pointer with nine seconds to go. The Eagles held the lead well into the first half of both games.
Zimmerman stressed the need for the team to move on from the disappointing finish.
“It’s a long season, and it gets even longer if you get tied up thinking about the last game,” Zimmerman said.
Despite the big win, Friedberg maintains the team still has room to grow.
“We’ve played some great stretches of basketball, but we definitely haven’t played our best basketball yet,” he said. “We are always striving to get better in every facet of the game and are never satisfied.”
Having now won four of their last six contests, the Eagles will go for their second straight conference victory when they visit Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) on Friday, Jan. 18 at 8 p.m.
— By Ryan Smith