Mustangs’ Rally Falls Short in 73-71 Loss to Chicago

Mustangs’ Rally Falls Short in 73-71 Loss to Chicago

OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Stevenson men's basketball team rallied from down four points in the final minute to tie the score at 71-71 with 13 seconds left on a put-back by junior Brandon Rorie, but Chicago's Nate Brooks answered with a bucket of his own five seconds later to give the visiting Maroons a 73-71 victory over the Mustangs, Sunday afternoon at Owings Mills Gymnasium on the final day of the Hoopsville National Invitational Classic. 

Stevenson (3-1) led just twice during the second half, but rallied to tie the score late.  After Brooks' lay-in for Chicago (3-1), junior Chris Day had one more chance for the Mustangs, but his three-pointer from the left wing missed the mark. The loss ends the Mustangs' five-game win streak that dated back to the 2013-14 season and ends their bid for the program's first 4-0 start in school history.

The game opened up with a frenetic pace as both teams looked to get in transition for easy run-out baskets. Stevenson took the early initiative as junior Christian Roberts drained a fade-away jumper off the left elbow for an 8-6 lead, and then senior Erik Fisher added a baby hook on the next possession for a four-point cushion.

Fisher led the Mustangs in the game with 19 points while also hauling in seven rebounds.

Chicago fought through the quick run, however, and answered with an 11-4 run with the final six consecutive points coming from Blaine Crawford to stake to a 17-14 advantage. Senior Colby Giacubeno answered for the Mustangs, pulling the hosts level with a triple from the right wing, and then after Waller Perez made 14-foot jumper for Chicago, the veteran guard tied the game again on the next trip by slicing through the Maroon defense for a lay-in.

The teams continued to trade baskets and stops until the visiting Maroons used an 8-2 run to take hold of the lead, 29-23. Day stopped the run by Chicago with a lay-in, but Crawford converted a tough runner at the other end to reinstate the Maroons' six-point lead. 

Chicago started the pull away in the latter stages of the half, opening up a 38-29 lead before Day picked off an errant pass and finished the transition bucket to cut the lead to seven. The Mustangs got one more chance before the break and took it as junior Chris Shaw rattled in a three from the top of the key as the horn went off to trim the lead down to 38-34.

Both teams shot well in the first half with the Maroons shooting nearly 52% (15-for-29) while the Mustangs converted 12-of-24 field goal attempts.

Stevenson immediately cut into the lead in the second half as junior Sean Farr finished a nifty reverse lay-in off of an inbounds pass. After a defensive stop SU took the lead back, 39-38, as Fisher buried a three with an assist by Farr. Chicago quickly pushed back and retook the lead through Tyler Howard with a lay-up, and then extended the advantage to five, 44-39, on a lay-up by Alex Voss and dunk by Nate Brooks.

Farr kept the hosts in the game as he scored nine of his 13 points in the second half while also pulling down six rebounds in the game. The transfer also dished out two assists and recorded two steals and a block.

Despite the charges made by Stevenson, Chicago was able to maintain the lead through a balanced attack. Four different players scored at least ten points for the Maroons, led by Waller Perez who netted 17 points.

Trailing since the 18:42 mark in the second half, the Mustangs drew level with 9:12 left in the period as Roberts slung ball to the near corner where Giacubeno fired in a three-ball to knot the score, 53-53. Minutes later SU took the lead as Roberts picked off a pass and fed Darius Walker for a transition dunk and 57-56 lead. Chicago leveled the score at 57-57 on a free throw, but Fisher turned provider the next trip down the court for the Mustangs, feeding Day underneath for an easy lay-in and two-point lead.

The Maroons would not go away, though, and turned a two-point deficit into a four-point lead, 65-61, with 4:36 left thanks to back-to-back three-pointers by Howard and Jordan Smith. The visitor's advantage grew to five at 68-63 with 3:19 left before the Mustangs inched back in. 

Stevenson got back to with two on two occasions thanks to four free throws by Fisher, and then Rorie leveled the contest with his put-back. After a quick in-bounds pass, Chicago answered right back as Brooks finished from close in off an assist by Smith.

The Mustangs now hit the road for four consecutive games away from Owings Mills, beginning with Tuesday night's game at Penn State Berks. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.