Women’s basketball beats Emory 56–47; loses to Rochester, Case
During winter break when the campus was recovering from a rigorous fall semester, the Tartans’ women’s basketball team was hard at work during the winter break and into the new semester, advancing its overall record to 8–6 and University Athletic Association (UAA) record to 1–2.
The Tartans started off their winter break schedule with a 59–53 win at Hiram College on Dec. 18. The victory was a team effort: Sophomore Ali Aunkst finished with 13 points, sophomore Jacki Cortese recorded a double-double 12 points and 10 rebounds, fifth-year senior Rachelle Roll added 11, and first-year Brit Phillips finished with 10. First-year Emily Peel grabbed 11 boards.
After a week hiatus, the Tartans hit the hardwood with a win, 65–61, on Dec. 29 in the first game of the Ohio Wesleyan Bishop Classic/Hoops for Hope against Franklin University. Phillips ended with a career-high of 21 points, sophomore Jennifer Larsen ended with 15, Aunkst with 10, and Roll pulled down a season high of 12 rebounds.
In the championship game of the Ohio Wesleyan Bishop Classic/Hoops for Hope on Dec. 30, the Cardinal and Gray pulled out an entertaining victory over Olivet College in overtime, 58–56. Though Carnegie Mellon was down 16 points with 10:40 left in the game, the squad went on an astonishing 20–3 run to secure a lead. With 30 seconds left in regulation, Olivet tied the game and the Tartans were unable to answer, sending the game into extra minutes. A trey by Aunkst and a foul shot by Phillips secured the 58–56 victory. Aunkst scored a career-high 23 points and was named to the All-Tournament team. Phillips scored 14 points and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
Despite their productive offensive, the Tartans were most proud of their team defense. Larsen stated that the whole team “trust[s] each other and it really pays off for us when we play that way. The best thing we can do as a team and as individuals is play great defense. We have the ability to play really amazing team defense and when we are dedicated to doing that every aspect of our game improves.”
Unfortunately, defense was not enough on Jan. 3 for Carnegie Mellon in their last non-conference game against Stevenson University, as they fell 61–63. Larsen tallied 19 points and sophomore Nicole Vaccarella knocked down 16 points.
Carnegie Mellon opened its UAA season on Jan. 8 with a 56–47 win at Emory University. The Tartans ended the first half strong with a 33–21 lead. However, they came out cold from halftime as the Tartans shot one for eight while Emory started with a 12–4 run. However, Carnegie Mellon kicked it into overdrive, answering with a 6–0 run to take a 10 point lead. Never looking back, the Tartans kept up intense defense to secure the 56–47 win. Larsen tallied 26 points and nine rebounds, Roll had a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds, first-year Tori Baggio pulled down eight rebounds, and Phillips scored seven points while dishing out six assists.
The win to start conference play proved to boost the squad’s confidence. “We needed the win against Emory to prove to ourselves that we belong in this conference and I think everybody else was just as psyched as I was to get a victory,” Larsen said.
Unfortunately, the second game of UAA play ended a little differently for the Tartans, with a hard loss, 58–51, at University of Rochester on Jan. 10. Phillips ended the night with 22 points, Larsen added 13, and Roll grabbed eight rebounds.
Although Carnegie Mellon lost a tough game to Rochester, Vaccarella says the team is still hopeful. “After the weekend, the team has gained a greater sense of confidence going into the rest of conference play,” she said. “Our win against Emory and a competitive game against Rochester has proven that we can become a major competitor this year. We know that if we continue to work hard, and focus on playing together as a team, we can be very successful this year, and take everyone by surprise.”
Saturday marked the Tartans’ third conference game, but they lost their road game against Case Western Reserve University, 49–71. Case’s defense forced the Tartans to make 28 turnovers in the first half, which gave the Spartans a comfortable 43–24 lead going into the half. While neither team shot well, Case made 28 out of 34 free throws while the Tartans only made 23 trips to the line, making 16. Peel recorded 12 points, Aunkst scored 14, and Roll grabbed 12 rebounds.
Carnegie Mellon continues UAA play with two home games this weekend, starting with the University of Chicago on Friday at 6 p.m. and Washington University at 2 p.m. on Sunday. This weekend is also the Tartans’ “Heroes Weekend.”