Women’s basketball starts off season with three victories

Sophomore Jacki Cortese led the Tartans in total points this weekend. The Tartans topped Bethany, John Caroll, and Marietta to enter this week with a 3–0 winning streak.  Sophomore Jacki Cortese led the Tartans in total points this weekend. The Tartans topped Bethany, John Caroll, and Marietta to enter this week with a 3–0 winning streak.

The Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team finished their first week strong, opening the season at home and hosting the University Athletic Association (Ohio Athletic Association Challenge) with a perfect record of 3–0.

Last Monday was the Tartans’ home opener against Bethany College, and they tallied their first win of the season, 60–55. Carnegie Mellon was anxious to run as they took the early 7–4 lead before the Bison had five quick possessions and took their only lead of the game, 9–7. With 14:44 left on the clock, first-year forward Emily Peel hit a jumper, and two plays later, sophomore center Jacki Cortese scored a layup to regain the Tartan lead at 11–9. Heading into halftime, the Cardinal and Gray held a 28–25 lead.

In the second half, Carnegie Mellon’s biggest lead was 11 points, 50–39, with 4:10 to play in the game. The Bison did not let them off easy, going on a 10–4 run in the remaining minutes. The run proved too little too late, though, as Carnegie Mellon pulled out the 60–55 win.

Cortese led in scoring for both teams, tallying 16 points, including a perfect 8–8 performance from the free throw line. Peel recorded her first double-double with 13 points and a game-high of 13 rebounds.

Despite a strong start of the season, Cortese noted that in order to continue on a streak of success, “the team will need to keep its energy high and continue to learn how to respond to situations with more fluency on the court.”

These thoughts carried over to the Tartans’ next game as they hosted their third annual UAA(OAC) Challenge this past weekend. The squad pulled out a 69–61 win over Marietta College on Friday night.

Carnegie Mellon started out a little slow as Marietta scored two quick baskets in the first 1:23 of play. However, the Tartans scored the next 15 out of 16 points to take the lead of 15–5 with 12:26 left in the first half. With five minutes left in the first half, the Cardinal and Gray had a 28–16 lead, but Marietta scored nine straight points, cutting the score down to 28–25. Cortese answered with a three-point play, while sophomore Nicole Vacarella took a full court layout and a nailed a trey to end the half 36–25.

Marietta did not go down without a fight and came out strong for the beginning of the second half. The Pioneers went on a 9–2 run, but Carnegie Mellon answered with eight straight points, advancing the score to 46–34. Marietta first-year Brittany Metcalf started a 12–3 run, but it proved to be not enough as the Tartans made seven of eight free throws to seal the deal with a 69–61 win.

Cortese lead the way with a double-double, scoring 24 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Fifth-year senior Rachelle Roll and sophomore Alex Hansen added eight points each, while Roll also grabbed eight rebounds.

On Saturday, the Tartans recorded a victory over John Carroll University in the last game of the UAA(OAC) Challenge, 75–69. Carnegie Mellon started out strong with a 13–4 lead in the first six minutes of play, but John Carroll slowly made a comeback and took the lead with 6:39 left in the first half at 26–24. Going into halftime, John Carroll held the lead at 36–30.

John Carroll started back strong to defend their lead, making the score 40–32. The Tartans fought back with a 10–2 run, ending with a trey by first-year Brit Philips to tie the score at 42–42. After the teams exchanged buckets, sophomore Jen Larsen hit a trey to take the lead to 47–46. The Cardinal and Gray did not give up their lead for the rest of the game, ending with a 75–69 victory.

Coach Gerri Seidl previously reflected on this season’s team: “The ’09–’10 squad is athletic. A healthy full squad gives us the ability to go deeper into the bench. We have a little more versatility. One player may be strong as a scorer while her counterpart is more defensively geared. We have the ability to rotate a variety of lineups. We have a long way to go, but this group comes to work every single day.”

The win over John Carroll showed this athleticism, versatility, and hard work that Coach Seidl mentioned and was a team effort. Cortese earned a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds, Larsen took 15 points and seven rebounds, Phillips scored 10 points and dished out six assists, and Peel added nine points and nine rebounds.

Larsen was named to the All-Tournament team, while Cortese was named the tournament’s most valuable player.

The Tartans will hit the hardwood next when they visit Grove City College on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff.