Women's basketball fights and falls in NCAA tournament
The 25th-ranked Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team recently participated in the 2016 NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship. The Tartans won their first round matchup against fifth-ranked Hope College and their second round game against 14th-ranked Ohio Northern University before falling in the sectional semifinal to 10th ranked Washington University in St. Louis. The Tartans finished 21–7 overall, tying the 1990-91 team’s school record for the most wins in a season.
On March 4, the Tartans opened their run in the tournament with a 73–72 victory against Hope College. The Tartans got off to an early lead, shooting for 50 percent from the field and amassing a 21–12 lead in the first quarter. During the second quarter, the Tartans out-rebounded the Flying Dutch 13–5 and scored 11 second-chance points off six offensive rebounds, heading into halftime with a 39–28 lead. In the third quarter, Hope started to make a comeback, outscoring the Tartans 25–21 as Carnegie Mellon’s lead was cut to seven points. Both teams fought hard as time ticked down in the fourth quarter. With 2:17 left in regulation, the Tartans held a slim 68–67 lead. A three pointer gave the Flying Dutch their first lead since making the first basket of the game, but junior center and forward Lisa Murphy quickly tied the game up 70 apiece. The Flying Dutch retook the lead with 21 seconds left, but Murphy earned three points for the Tartans after making a shot and converting an ensuing foul shot. Hope College made one last run to try and take the victory, but Murphy came down with the defensive rebound as time expired. Murphy closed the game with 25 points and 14 rebounds while senior forward Liza Otto tallied 19 points. Senior guard Lindsay Poss finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. The Tartans finished with 50 rebounds to 31 for Hope and 24 second-chance points.
On March 5, the Tartans defeated Ohio Northern University 68–65. The Tartans shot 53.8 percent in the first quarter while holding the Polar Bears to 31.6 percent, but had just a three-point lead after turning the ball over seven times. Two free throws by junior guard Jackie Hudepohl gave the Tartans their largest lead of the period at 13–6 with 5:06 to go. Hudepohl and Amy Bullimore of the Polar Bears led all scorers at the quarter break with eight points apiece. The Tartans grabbed 11 defensive rebounds while the Polar Bears made just five of their 20 attempts from the floor. The Tartans put nine shots in the basket and pushed their three-point advantage to 14 when Otto drained a three-pointer from the left wing for the last basket of the half, giving the Tartans a 39–25 lead at the break. A 14–2 run by the Polar Bears cut the Tartans lead to four with 4:56 to go in the third quarter, but the Tartans closed the third with an 11–6 run to hold a 10-point advantage heading into the final quarter. A 14–5 run through the first six minutes of the final period pulled the Polar Bears to within one point, and Ohio Northern later got their first lead since the first bucket of the game on a jumper in the paint with 2:32 to play. The Tartans answered and retook the lead on the next possession when Hudepohl drove the baseline and banked in a jumper in front of the hoop. After a defensive rebound by Otto gave the Tartans back the ball, first-year guard Jenn Mayberger found Murphy down low for a layup and a three-point Tartan lead before another shot by Ohio Northern brought the lead down to one. Poss was fouled with 12 seconds left and made one-of-two free throws but Otto grabbed the board on her miss and was fouled, sending her to the line with a two-point lead. Otto made the first but missed the second leaving an opportunity for the Polar Bears to tie the game; however, a last second three-pointer by Ohio Northern hit the rim and bounced to the floor advancing the Tartans to the sectional round of the NCAA Championship. Hudepohl led the Tartans with 20 points while Murphy tallied 17 and became the program’s all-time leading scorer with her 11th point of the game and now has 1,602 career points. Poss grabbed a team-high 13 rebounds to go with 12 points while Otto dropped in 11 points. Mayberger scored six points and grabbed nine rebounds to go with three assists.
On March 11, the Tartans fell to UAA rival Washington University in St. Louis 75–69. Back-to-back jumpers in the paint by Hudepohl gave the Tartans a 19–15 advantage going into the second quarter after four ties and two lead changes. The Tartans held their largest lead of 11 points with 1:45 to play in the second quarter and had a 33–26 halftime advantage after the Bears ended the period with two made buckets. Hudepohl was 6-of-6 from the field for the half and tied with Murphy for the leading scorers of the half with 12 points each. In the third quarter, the Bears retook the lead after making six of nine shots. The lead changed hands twice while the score was tied on three occasions through the final five minutes of the quarter with Washington University holding a slim 48–46 lead at the final break. The lead would swap hands nine times with the Tartans holding a 61–60 advantage following two free throws by sophomore guard Anna Novak with 4:16 to play. The Bears then went on an 8–0 run to grab their largest lead of the game, 68–61, before Hudepohl stopped it with a three-pointer from the wing with just under two minutes to play. Otto drained a jumper to pull the Tartans within two, 71–69, with 29 seconds to go but the Bears converted 4-of-4 from the free throw line to close out the game. Murphy led all scorers with 23 points while Hudepohl finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Otto closed her career with 11 points while Poss tallied nine and grabbed nine rebounds in the final game of her career.
The season has been full of ups and downs for the Tartans. Though they weren’t able to make it to the final rounds, the season has undoubtedly been a success for the Tartans, who advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 before bowing out. The Tartans have fought hard all season, and the next one will certainly be worth looking forward to.