Murphy outshines everyone on the court for the Tartans

Lisa Murphy focuses on making a jump shot against Emory University. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics) Lisa Murphy focuses on making a jump shot against Emory University. (credit: Courtesy of CMU Athletics)

With the Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team putting up a fight in the University Athletic Association (UAA) this season, the dominant play of junior star center Lisa Murphy cannot go unnoticed. In a season where Murphy leads the nation in field goal percentage and has led in points per game at times during the season, the Tartan side looks hard to beat.

Murphy’s experiences go beyond her talent for finding the net in a Carnegie Mellon basketball game. At Carnegie Mellon she has had the pleasure of working at a high level, both on and off of the field, and her teammates cannot be overlooked either. On the court, Murphy has been a force, earning two Division III National Player of the week awards as she has averaged over 23 points a game. With a jaw dropping field goal percentage of 75.2 percent, Murphy explains that her success this season really comes from two different places. Her teammates’ high level of play has been hugely important, along with her improving preparation, which is facilitated by her coach’s efforts.

Playing well as a team has been a huge deal both for Murphy and the team as a whole. “My personal success is due to the team, if that makes sense; I mean I couldn’t be doing what I’m doing without everyone else … I’m just standing there, and they’re passing me the ball, I’m not doing anything fancy.” As Murphy points out, as a center, it’s much easier for her to put the ball in the basket when she has the ball right where she needs it to drop it in.

From a preparation standpoint, coach Jacquie Hullah has brought new strategic initiatives that have gotten the team more and more competitive every year since she joined the program. This past year in practice, Murphy explains that the team, “would count points based on defensive stops, instead of offensive scores, which really made us focus more on the defensive end of the ball and really make us take more pride in defense.” Murphy has also found herself watching a lot more film this season, which has doubly helped her play on the court by giving her information on her opponents, and improving her ability to get information from the film.

Balancing the game with outside life can absolutely be a challenge, but Murphy feels it is a healthy one with benefits. Of course her friendships with her teammates make the struggle much less stressful. “I’ve met my best friends on the team so, in that sense, being on an athletic team is just a great way to make friends, and a great support system.”

Murphy discusses the challenge of a very busy sequence of play at the start of spring semester, where the team is playing two UAA games per weekend. With so much time away, the team has a lot of work to do, but doesn’t miss the opportunity to enjoy the trips together. ”We love Catch Phrase and that’s kind of our go to game on the road. But also we’ll go to other people’s house and do it. We challenged the men’s team once; we won, of course.”

Part of Murphy’s choice to attend Carnegie Mellon over a few potential NCAA Division I basketball programs was the commitment to education displayed by the school. Murphy, a psychology major, works hard to excel in school work and devotes even more time outside of school to her interests. Twice a week, Murphy goes over to the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill where she interns and works with an autism class there. She has also had the opportunity to work at the children’s school on Carnegie Mellon’s campus.

Part of what has been great about Carnegie Mellon, from Murphy’s perspective, is the opportunity to balance commitments. “Luckily at the Division III level you have the ability to get a really well rounded education, so it hasn’t been much of an issue.” Clearly, Murphy has had a season to impress, and there is no question she, and her teammates, are showing they are in the right place to make a statement.

The Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team wrapped up UAA play on Saturday with an 83–49 demolition of Case Western Reserve University to secure 3rd place in the UAA.