Men’s Basketball Loses UAA Opener, Wins Home Tournament

The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team’s University Athletic Association opener this past Saturday was no cakewalk. The Tartans traveled to the University of Rochester to play the sixth-ranked Yellowjackets. Despite hanging tough for most of the game, Carnegie Mellon fell to Rochester 64–50 to snap a three-game winning streak and move to 3–2 overall on the young season. Prior to Rochester, the Tartans hosted and won the Radisson/Carnegie Mellon tournament over Thanksgiving weekend.

The Tartans came out of the gate strong against Rochester, taking a 15–10 lead with 11:52 remaining in the first half after a layup by senior guard Geoff Kozak. Rochester reeled off seven straight points to retake the lead, and the score stayed at a two-point advantage for Rochester heading into halftime at 31–29.

“We came out really strong and I think we controlled the tempo in the first half well,” said graduate student center Greg Gonzalez. “We penetrated against the zone well and were doing good things to put us in position to win the game.”

Sophomore Jack Anderson hit a three-pointer to start the scoring for the Tartans in the second half. Rochester then went on a 13–1 run to take a 46–33 lead, with the Tartans turning the ball over and missing some three-pointers during Rochester’s spree.

Rochester built up a 21-point lead at 58–37 with 4:01 remaining before the Tartans narrowed their margin of defeat to 14. First-year Shane Rife scored eight of Carnegie Mellon’s final 13 points.

“It’s always a tough place to play because they have pretty ruthless fans,” Gonzalez said. “The fans were in full force, but everyone on the team has either played there before or played with a rowdy crowd, so we didn’t really get up for it any different than any other conference game.”

The Tartans were dominated in the rebound department as Rochester held a 45–27 edge. Rochester benefited from 22 offensive rebounds, with the Yellowjackets taking 11 more shots than Carnegie Mellon in the game.

Anderson led the Tartans with 14 points and Rife finished with 10. Junior forward Ryan Einwag was held to eight points on only five shots. Carnegie Mellon shot 35.3 percent for the game, while Rochester made 41.9 percent of their field goals.

Rochester was led by their powerful duo of forwards Uche Ndubizu and Jon Onyiriuka. Ndubizu scored a game-high 16 points and pulled down 13 rebounds (11 offensive), and Onyiriuka had 15 points and nine boards.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, the Tartans hosted the Radisson/Carnegie Mellon tournament. They defeated Haverford College on Saturday, Nov. 24 by a score of 73–59, and then beat Ohio Northern in the championship game the next day 71–60.

“The team fought really hard in both games and did a great job of keeping our foot down on the accelerator,” Gonzalez said. “One of our preseason goals was to win this tournament, and we wanted to make sure we achieved that.”

Against Haverford, the Tartans had four starters in double figures as they maintained a 22- point lead with five minutes left in the game. Haverford went on a run to make the final score closer but it was too little, too late.

Einwag led the team with 15 points, and Gonzalez had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Kozak and Anderson each chipped in with 12 points.
Against Ohio Northern, the Tartans took a seven-point lead into halftime only to have the Polar Bears score 14 straight points to start the second half. Carnegie Mellon responded with 11 straight points to regain the lead, and never looked back.

Einwag poured in 20 points to lead the Tartans, and he was rewarded by being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Anderson and Gonzalez added 10 points apiece in the win, with Gonzalez leading the team with nine rebounds.

“One of the good things about this year’s team is that we have a lot of depth and a lot of experience,” Gonzalez said. “We have a few goals for the season. Our conference currently has the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-ranked teams in the country, so it’s pretty stacked at the top.... We don’t see any reason why we can’t compete to win the conference again this year like we did in ’05–’06. Also after a long drought of nothing in March, we have put together three straight years of post-season play. We are all planning on playing basketball during spring break. Whether it’s ECACs or NCAAs, we are shooting for post-season play. We have a long way to go to achieve both those goals, but this team has a lot of heart and a lot of fight. The Rochester game was a disappointment for sure, but no one expects to be playing their best basketball this early in the season. Coach is still putting together lineups and mixing and matching a lot of things trying to figure out what’s best.”

The Tartans next play at Catholic University this Saturday in Washington, D.C. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Tartans have one more home game this year, on Thursday, Dec. 20, when they host Christopher Newport.