Men’s basketball wins one at Johns Hopkins

The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team returned home from Baltimore with mixed emotions, after splitting their games at the 17th Annual Blue Jay Invitational hosted by Johns Hopkins University.

The Tartans had an abysmal shooting effort in both games, losing to Johns Hopkins Friday, and pulling out a victory Saturday against New York City College of Technology.

The team hit their fair share of road bumps Friday night against Johns Hopkins. Junior forward Ryan Einwag got things started for the Tartans with a jump shot 22 seconds into the game to give them a 2–0 lead.

Unfortunately, it was the first and last time they would have the lead for the rest of the game. Johns Hopkins led by as many as 17 points in the first half, including a 19–3 run that began after Einwag’s initial score.

Assistant coach Kevin Byrne hinted that the game may have been doomed from the start. “Some of our former players were at the game and they mentioned that our team has never shot well at [the] Johns Hopkins gym,” Byrne said.

The premonition came true on Friday night. The Tartans shot miserably, hitting only 36 percent of their shots, including 19 percent from three-point territory, and 55 percent of their free throws.

Johns Hopkins didn’t fare much better from the field, only connecting on 40 percent of their shots, but they bested the Tartans from the charity stripe, knocking down 80 percent of their attempts.

Carnegie Mellon fought back in the second half, coming as close as four points with 1:14 left to play, but they failed to get over the hump.
The Tartans gave up a layup and then Johns Hopkins knocked down two free throws to push their lead to eight and seal the game.

As if poor shooting wasn’t enough, the Tartans suffered a huge setback in the second half when Einwag was ejected after an intentional foul.

“I’ve been around basketball for a long time,” junior forward Terrance Bouldin-Johnson said. “I’ve never seen anyone ejected after something like that. It may have been an intentional foul, but it wasn’t anything malicious.”

Despite the ejection, Einwag still led the team in scoring with 18 points. Senior co-captain Geoff Kozak chipped in 13 points, and sophomore Jack Anderson contributed 14 for the Tartans.

Saturday night against New York the team had better fortune. They struggled from the field again, but upped their free throw percentage and got solid contributions from Einwag, who led the team again with 25 points.

Kozak had an efficient night, converting 50 percent of his shots and both of his free throw attempts. He also chipped in four assists and a steal.
“I just made a conscious effort to take open shots and better shots than I had [on Friday],” Kozak said. “We try to understand that the season is a marathon and not a sprint. Greg [Gonzalez] and I talked, and we refused to be demoralized after one game.”

Gonzalez contributed a double-double in the second game of his final season at Carnegie Mellon. His five blocks in two games moved him into third place on the school’s all-time block list.

It was particularly important after a mediocre performance the night before, which had been Gonzalez’s first game back from an injury-related redshirt year last season.

“I hadn’t played an entire year and I went out there against Johns Hopkins a little too anxious,” Gonzalez said. “I came out on Saturday and tried to concentrate on the little things. I just tried to have fun out there.”

Despite another night of poor shooting, the Tartans knocked down shots when it mattered. They took control of the game in the second half, after trailing by two at halftime, behind three straight three-pointers by sophomore Deacon Lavallee.

Lavallee’s three-point shooting propelled the Tartans to their first lead of the second half. They didn’t look back from there. A pair of free throws from Einwag with six minutes left pushed the lead to 10 and made it curtains for the Yellow Jackets.

The Tartans host the Radisson/Carnegie Mellon Invitational this weekend. The Tartans will play Haverford College Saturday at 3 p.m. The championship game will be Sunday.