Men’s basketball fights through the season but falls short in UAAs
While most students were lounging on the couches and enjoying the holidays with friends and family, the Carnegie Mellon men’s basketball team was knocking down free throws and perfecting plays. Over the long winter break, the Tartans moved their record to 4–9 overall and 0–3 in UAA play.
Just before the break, the Tartans hosted Heidelberg and Hood Colleges at the 19th annual Radisson/Carnegie Mellon Tournament. On Saturday, Nov. 28, the Tartans fell to Heidelberg 74–60 in the tournament’s opening round. After scoring eight unanswered points early in the first half, things were looking good for the Cardinal and Gray, but Heidelberg countered with a 13-point run of their own. Heidelberg maintained their lead for the rest of the half and entered the break leading 34–29. The Tartans challenged the Berg in the second half, taking the lead three separate times, but eventually fell short. The Tartans were led by junior Shane Rife with 16 points, followed by junior Matt Pettit with 14 points, and senior Jack Anderson, who cashed in for 12 points.
On Sunday, Nov. 29, the Tartans took on Hood College in the consolation game and came away with a 77–67 victory. Pettit paved the way for the Tartans, dropping 17 points and was named to the All-Tournament team. Three other Tartans finished the game in double digits: Anderson and sophomore John Duhring had 15 points apiece, while Rife added 10 points and a career-high of five assists.
On Dec. 2, the Tartans traveled to Huntingdon, Pa., to take on the Eagles of Juniata College. After only shooting one for nine in the first five minutes of the game, a massive dunk by Duhring jump-started the Tartans to an 84–79 victory. Duhring was eight for 12 and scored 18 points in the first half alone. He finished the game with a career-high 23 points, followed by Pettit and Anderson with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
The Tartans claimed their first winning record of the season on Dec. 12 as they defeated LaRoche College 73–58, improving to 4–3 overall. The Tartans started strong off the tip and took an early 8–0 lead.
The Redhawks were able to come within two points of the Tartans at the end of the half, but after the break, the Tartans appeared unstoppable. Led by Anderson’s 21 second-half points, the Tartans took a double-digit lead over the Redhawks. Anderson finished the game with 27 points, while Pettit cashed in for 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Rife finished with 13 points.
After a two-week break, the Tartans were back in action on Jan. 3 playing Widener University on the campus of DeSales University. The Tartans were strong in the first half and went into the break with a 35–32 lead but lost momentum in the second half. Anderson’s career high of 28 points was not enough to make up for the Tartans’ 20 turnovers and poor second-half shooting percentage. The Tartans were only three and 13 from behind the arc and shot 33.3 percent in the second half.
The Tartans were unable to rebound from their loss to Widener as the fell to Alvernia University on Jan. 4 at the Casa Mia Holiday Classic hosted by DeSales University. The Tartans dropped a 72–62 decision despite having four players score in double digits. Pettit recorded his fifth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Anderson once again led the team with 16 points.
The Tartans were just 39 percent from the field compared to the Crusaders’ 49 percent. Despite the two losses, Anderson’s performance earned him University Athletic Association (UAA) Athlete of the Week honors.
On Jan. 8, the Tartans opened up UAA play in Atlanta, Ga., at the home of the Emory University Eagles, but fell 80–67 in a disappointing battle.
“We had a pretty rocky start to the season and so we really wanted to come out strong in UAA play,” sophomore Max Gordon said. “It was really disappointing to come away with a loss in our UAA opener.”
Just two days later the Tartans dropped their second UAA game to the Yellowjackets of Rochester University. After an early 14–2 run by the Yellowjackets, the Tartans could not find a way to win. A three-point play by Anderson brought the Tartans to within one point, but the Yellowjackets went on a 10–0 run and maintained control for the rest of the game.
Jan. 12 was a bittersweet day for the Tartans as they tallied their fifth straight loss in a game against Catholic University of America. However, in the loss, Anderson became the 18th player in Carnegie Mellon history to score 1000 career points. The game was close, but the Tartans were unable finish on top.
“It’s really tough on the team morale to lose five games in a row, but it’s still early in the season,” Gordon said. “We have a big game against Case Western coming up and it will be a great opportunity to show our character and turn this season around.”
Unfortunately, the Tartans were unable to come away with a victory at Case Western Reserve University and fell to the Spartans 74–70. The Tartans fought for the win, as first-year Christian Shepley sank two three-pointers to come within two points with only 3:30 remaining in the game, but it was not enough and the Spartans held onto their lead.
The Tartans will resume UAA play as they face the University of Chicago in Skibo Gym on Friday at 8 p.m.