Tartan men remain on top

Despite fighting back in the second half from a 35–27 deficit, the Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team came up just short Friday night against UAA opponent New York University on a buzzer-beating shot at the end of regulation.
In front of another packed crowd at Skibo Gymnasium, the Tartans came out fighting against the Violets of NYU, who were itching to avenge a loss to Carnegie Mellon in double overtime on January 8 in New York. The score went back and forth until NYU took control with just over nine minutes left in the first half, building on their lead and going into halftime up 35–27.
At the start of the second half it appeared as though the Violets had a firm grasp on the game, refusing to relinquish the lead. However, the Tartan men slowly mounted a comeback and took the lead off a huge three-pointer by junior guard Brad Matta with 7:45 left in the game. With the crowd revitalized, the Tartans rode their momentum and extended the lead to 57–50 with 5:05 to go after senior Clayton Barlow-Wilcox made a layup while being fouled, converting the free throw. But NYU senior guard Jason Kildare hit two back-to-back shots to cut the Tartan lead to just three.
With less than two minutes left in the game, NYU’s Kildare connected on another shot to tie the game at 59. The Violets stole the ball with 26 seconds remaining after the Tartans attempted to go inside to Barlow-Wilcox. With seconds remaining, NYU’s Michael Magee, who was 6 for 16 in three-point attempts going into the game, connected when his three-pointer bounced in off the backboard as time expired. With the loss, the Tartans and Violets both clinched a share of the UAA lead.
After the game, Matta commented on the buzzer-beating loss. “We let one get away. Give NYU credit: they hit big shots when they had to,” he said. “Even though this was a tough loss, we aren’t going to hold our heads down. We know every team is out to get us, so we are just going to have to work that much harder in practice and in games.”
Sunday’s game against the Judges of Brandeis was a different story. The Tartans sought redemption for Friday’s loss and proof that they were still the best team in the UAA conference. Despite coming out slow in the first halves of recent games, the Tartans took an early lead of 14–6 about four minutes into the game, and held onto the lead throughout. Co-captain Barlow-Wilcox led the Tartans with 10 points in the first half, and helped secure a 47–40 lead going into halftime.
The second half was much of the same story, with the Tartans holding off the Judges’ attempted runs. Sophomore point guard Geoff Kozak ran the Tartan offense, dishing out four assists and scoring 12 points. The Tartans held on for an 86–74 victory.
“After dropping Friday night’s game, our backs were against the wall and we had to step up and win out if we want to win the UAAs,” said junior Greg Gonzalez after the Brandeis victory.
With the win, and an NYU loss to Rochester 67–53, the Tartan men once again take sole possession of the UAA conference lead. Even though they are in first place, the team knows that they are now in control of their own destiny. As senior forward Bary Dunn said after yesterday’s victory, “It’s a big confidence boost. We’re back in the driver’s seat. We can watch what happens around the league, but what it boils down to is that we’re in first place — alone — and we just gotta take each of these last three games one at a time. We don’t need anyone’s help. Three games. One at a time. And the league is ours.”