Tartan men’s basketball falls to Rochester 60–51

The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team lost 60–51 to the University of Rochester Yellowjackets on Saturday in the University Athletic Association (UAA) opener for both teams. Rochester (5–1, 1–0) won the UAA title two years ago by defeating Carnegie Mellon (3–2, 0–1) on the final day of the regular season, but last year Carnegie Mellon returned the favor, winning that game to wrap up the UAA title and a trip to the national tournament.

Saturday’s game added to what is developing into a great rivalry between the two schools. Neither team could pull away through the first 32 minutes, with the game tied at halftime and three points being the biggest second-half lead for either team up to that point.

Headlined by junior forward Uche Ndubizu, Rochester went on a 10–1 run to turn a 42–43 deficit into a 52–44 advantage with 5:12 remaining. Ndubizu’s size and strength led the Yellowjackets. He collected 21 points and 15 rebounds, despite only shooting three of 12 from the free-throw line. The Tartans had chances to cut Rochester’s lead but they struggled from the free throw line down the stretch, making only six of their last 15 attempts.

“This was a typical hard-fought UAA game,” Carnegie Mellon head coach Tony Wingen said. “There’s nobody in our league that doesn’t think the UAA is the best basketball conference in the country. Every UAA game is tough from start to finish. Every possession is contested. You can’t take anything for granted and you can’t take a possession off. I said to the team, every possession is magnified, the importance of it. That was the case again today.”

In the first half, Rochester built a 21–14 lead only to have Carnegie Mellon tie the game at 23 on a three-pointer by senior guard Brad Matta.

The game was knotted at 29 at the break thanks to sophomore forward Ryan Einwag’s free throw with two seconds remaining.

Matta, in a gutsy performance, led Carnegie Mellon with 13 points and Einwag added 12 points, going eight of 14 from the free-throw line. Sophomore center Rob Pearson led the team with eight rebounds.

“This group is fun to be in practice with,” Wingen said. “Their enthusiasm is tremendous. We’re getting great leadership from Brad Matta and Greg Gonzalez. They’re even enthusiastic about defensive slide drills. They’re very coachable and a lot of fun to work with. We’ve made great strides since the first day of practice, and in spite of the fact that we’ve lost the last two games, we’ve lost to very good teams. I think we’re growing and improving every day and we’re going to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.”

The Tartans will be in action again tonight when they host La Roche College at Skibo Gymnasium at 7:30 p.m.