Basketball team plays at Pitt in an exhibition game

The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team went up against fifth-ranked Division I University of Pittsburgh last Wednesday at the Petersen Events Center. The hosting Panthers won the exhibition game 103–45.

The Tartans returned only four players who averaged more than 10 minutes of play per game from last year, and Carnegie Mellon’s inexperience showed against the Panthers. Pittsburgh jumped out to an early 21–2 lead before junior guard Geoff Kozak was able to score on a lay-up for the Tartans’ first field goal at the 12:05 mark.

Pittsburgh, led by preseason Big East Player of the Year center Aaron Gray, a 7'0'' senior, used its size advantage to control the paint and the rebound department throughout the night. On offense Pitt was able to pass well and work for an open shot, while defensively they stayed right on Carnegie Mellon, making the Tartans earn every shot they made.

The Panthers took a 48–17 lead into halftime, holding Carnegie Mellon to 13.9 percent shooting in the first half.
“Pitt certainly was as good as we thought they were going to be,” Carnegie Mellon head coach Tony Wingen said. “They played every bit as well as their ranking. We knew it was a tall order for us to come in here and compete with them. Tonight’s game and every day in practice for this team is a learning experience. We’re very young right now, we’re inexperienced, and every day we’re trying to get better, and I think tonight’s game was in that vein. We learned a lot about ourselves here tonight.”

The Tartans calmed down and shot the ball better in the second half thanks in part to sophomore forward Ryan Einwag and Kozak each connecting on a pair of three-pointers. Einwag led the Tartans with 13 points, and Kozak contributed 12 points for the game.

Senior co-captain guard Brad Matta added 10 points and six rebounds, and sophomore point guard Corey O’Rourke led the team with three assists and two steals on the night.

“I think we gained confidence as the game went along,” Wingen said. “We got over the jitters, after a time and we didn’t shoot the ball well all night long, but in spurts we shot it better in the second half. We executed our offense pretty well at times in the second half, so we’ll look at those things on tape and reinforce them and try and make them more consistent.”

Despite the lopsided score, the team took something from the game. “The next 24 games we can always look back, when we are in a slump, or up against adversity, and we can basically say we went against the University of Pittsburgh, a top-five team in the country,” Matta said. “We fought hard and we did the best we could, and we came out with some positive outcomes.”

The game was a learning experience for the Tartans, who are coming off a memorable 2005–06 season in which they won their first-ever University Athletic Association title en route to posting a 20–5 regular season record. Carnegie Mellon defeated Princeton 51–46, and played in the Division III postseason tournament last year, losing to Baldwin-Wallace in the first round.

The Tartans open up their regular season on Friday, November 17, when they travel to Washington & Jefferson University for a 10 p.m. tipoff in the annual West Penn Classic.