Men’s basketball cruises in second half to take opener

Senior guard Christian Manoli makes a move against the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. (credit: Staff Photographer) Senior guard Christian Manoli makes a move against the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. (credit: Staff Photographer) Credit: Staff Photographer Credit: Staff Photographer

At the start of the season, every team is optimistic about its chances. There’s a clean slate: no wins and no losses.

On Monday’s home opener, the men’s basketball team gave substance to this optimism with a dominant second half, vanquishing Geneva College in an 81–67 victory.

The first half, however, gave cause for concern. While the perimeter defense was usually solid, there were plenty of breakdowns that led to open three-point attempts. The bigger problem was a lack of rim protection, as Geneva was extremely efficient under the basket.

This allowed Geneva players to hang around longer than they should have against a Carnegie Mellon squad that often seemed to have an unstoppable offense.

Leading by only one point going into the second half with a score of 33–32, the Tartans really got going after the intermission, hitting shot after shot.

An early second-half run, spearheaded by shooting from first-year guard Matt Hillman and solid play from senior forward Rob Mohen, separated Carnegie Mellon from Geneva for good.

Mohen turned in an excellent two-way performance, leading the team in scoring with 17 points, to go with solid defending and rebounding.

However, the real key to the victory was a huge hot streak from senior guard/forward Christian Manoli, who finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

Manoli was quick to credit his teammates. “It wasn’t even me,” he said, “It was the team. Hillman came out to play; Rob Mohen came to play; everyone came out to play.”

He acknowledged his slow start, saying, “I missed my first two threes of the game, but a shooter’s got to shoot. You just have to come out and you can’t get deterred.”

Beyond the three-pointers that got the ball rolling for Carnegie Mellon in the second half, Manoli was effective getting to the hoop, carving up the Geneva defense.

On defense, the struggles that plagued Carnegie Mellon in the first half were gone after the break. While Geneva scored more points in the second half, this was a result of Carnegie Mellon pushing the pace.

In the second half, Carnegie Mellon forced Geneva into nine turnovers and closed out the perimeter, leaving Geneva with only one three-point attempt. While the offense ran the show, the defense allowed this game to be blown more open than a 14-point margin would indicate.

In what can only be described as an auspicious start to the season, Carnegie Mellon put on a performance they could build off of, as they hosted the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg on Saturday afternoon in an 85–72 victory.