Men’s basketball team battles Case and Emory

The Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team split a pair of road University Athletic Association games this past weekend against Case Western Reserve University and Emory University. The Tartans edged Case 70–68 on Friday night before falling 94–83 to Emory Sunday afternoon.

On Friday, the host Spartans held a two-point advantage with 37 seconds left before sophomore guard Corey O’Rourke tied the game on a layup with 30 seconds remaining. A Case free throw gave the Spartans a 68–67 lead before junior guard Geoff Kozak hit the game-winning three-pointer with only 9.7 seconds left to give the Tartans the 70–68 win. A last-second shot by Case was off the mark, giving Kozak his second game-winner in the past three games.

Case Western built a quick 11–2 lead to start the game, but the Tartans answered with a 21–12 run of their own to tie the game at 23 at the 8:22 mark, thanks to a tip-in by first-year forward Dan Sawl. The Tartans then took their first lead of the game on a driving layup by O’Rourke and headed into halftime leading 32-27.

A 19–7 run to begin the second half from Case saw the Tartans down 46–39, but Carnegie Mellon again had an answer, scoring eight straight points to retake the lead with 13 minutes to play. From this point forward, neither team led by more than three points.

O’Rourke led the Tartans with 15 points and sophomore forward Dan Martin (starting for the first time) added a career-high 12 points. First-year guard Jack Anderson hit a pair of three-pointers en route to 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Carnegie Mellon shot 40 percent from the field, but a disappointing 42 percent from the free-throw line, making 13 of 31 attempts. Fortunately, Case Western was equally bad, making just 18 of 40 attempts from the charity stripe.

“This game was back and forth,” senior guard Brad Matta said. “Case made their runs at the beginning of both halves, but we overcame adversity and we made plays when we needed to. Geoff hit the huge game-winning three, we pulled down a rebound when we needed a rebound, and made a shot when we needed a basket. When it came down to the wire, we were ready to make plays. We have guys on this team who have been in these situations before.”

The Tartans never held the lead against Emory on Sunday, with the Eagles using a 29–10 run to create a resounding 36–16 lead with 7:35 remaining in the first half. Carnegie Mellon trailed 53–36 at halftime with field goal shooting telling the story. Emory shot 55 percent from the floor whereas the Tartans came into the locker room shooting 33 percent. The Tartans made things interesting in the second half, going on a 13–2 run to narrow the gap to 64–56 with 10:42 remaining after Anderson connected on a layup. The Tartans would get no closer, however, as the Eagles held on for the 11-point victory.

Emory shot 52 percent for the game compared to the Tartans’ 40 percent. Kozak led the way for Carnegie Mellon with 18 points as five players scored in double figures. Anderson and O’Rourke each scored 14 points, senior guard Brad Matta chipped in 11, and sophomore center Rob Pearson had 10 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Ryan Einwag led the team with 11 rebounds in the loss.

“[Emory] got an early lead on us and I know I’ve said it before, but you just can’t fall behind on the road in the UAA,” Matta said. “We were down 17 at one point and we got it down to nine. Then, they just hit shots the same way we did against Case, only at that point we were down nine instead of up by nine.”