Women's basketball triumphs at 2017 ECAC championship

The women’s basketball team poses after winning the ECAC final. (credit: CMU Athletics) The women’s basketball team poses after winning the ECAC final. (credit: CMU Athletics) The team looks to score against one of their ECAC opponents. (credit: Visual Editor) The team looks to score against one of their ECAC opponents. (credit: Visual Editor)

Over the weekend, the Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team won the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Women’s Championship presented by Visit Myrtle Beach.

On Friday, the team started with a win against the Brooklyn College Bulldogs.

Though the game began with a Carnegie Mellon three-pointer from first-year Katharine Higgins, Brooklyn got to a fast start, taking a 7–5 lead. The Tartans then scored 13 unanswered points, with eight from senior Lisa Murphy, who was announced last week as a finalist for the 2017 Jostens Trophy. While both teams played hard on each side of the ball, the Tartans made 60 percent of their field goals, and the Bulldogs only made 30.8 percent. Higgins ended the first quarter how she started, with a three-pointer, this time at the buzzer. The Tartans maintained their lead, ending the first quarter 23–11.

The Bulldogs started the second quarter with aggressive play, but the Tartans’ great defense forced several steals and blocks. The quarter played out similarly as the first, with Brooklyn burdened by many missed shots, particular three-point attempts. With 1:45 left to play in the half, first-year Makayla Filiere grabbed a steal, quickly making a fast-break layup all alone on her side of the court. Murphy added 12 points in the quarter, finishing with 20 in the first half. The second quarter ended with Carnegie Mellon leading 42–28.

Brooklyn played aggressively after the half, immediately sinking a three-point shot, but the Tartans responded with a trey right back. The Tartans’ defense again dominated, forcing turnovers, which the offense took advantage of, using efficient passing on the perimeter and into the paint to score easy layups. The Tartans extended their lead to 26 points, finished the third quarter 67–41.

In the fourth quarter, the two teams traded shots, but the Tartans held onto their large lead, allowing for several non-starters to enter the game. With less than three minutes left the play in the game, the Bulldogs cut the lead to 19 points, but the Tartans scored the final three baskets to win 84–59, advancing to the semifinals of the ECAC Championship.

Murphy led the team with a double-double, 24 points and 16 rebounds, while Higgins added 20 points 7 rebounds. As a team, the Tartans had more assists than the Bulldogs (18 to 9), more points off of turnovers (29 to 12), more points in the paint (42 to 16), and more fast-break points (10 to 0). The Tartans shot an overall 49.2 percent from the field compared to the Bulldogs’ 30.8 percent.

The following day, the Tartans faced the Stevenson University Mustangs in a bout to decide which team would play in the ECAC Championship final. Both teams started the game at full speed, playing with power and precision, trading baskets, quickly tying the game at 6–6. After two consecutive three-point shots from Higgins and Filiere, the Tartans jumped to a six-point lead. In the final 3:42 of the first quarter, the Tartans went on an 8–0 to end the quarter 21–10.

Stevenson struck first in the second quarter with a three-pointer. Though the Mustangs put the pressure on, the Tartans sustained their significant lead with their fast-paced offense. The Mustangs cut the lead to five near the end of the quarter but senior Jackie Hudepohl made a two-point jump shot in final second before the buzzer to end the first half with the Tartans leading 34–27.

The third quarter saw Carnegie Mellon taking better advantage of second chance shots off of offensive rebounds. After back-to-back three-pointers from the Mustangs, the Tartans’ lead was cut to four points with two minutes remaining the quarter. Higgins scored her own three-pointer, ending the quarter with the score 48–41, the Tartans still in the lead.

The fourth quarter continued as the first three quarters had, with consistent play on both teams on both sides of the ball and Carnegie Mellon keeping their small cushion lead. The Tartans’ lead stretched to 16 with two minutes left to play. The Tartans went on to win the game 65–50.
Murphy recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 20 points and 19 rebounds, plus 5 blocks. Higgins scored 13 points, while Hudepohl added 10 points. The Tartans made 46.7 percent of their shots from the field and assisted on 50 percent of their baskets (14). The Tartans had 18 points off turnovers to Stevenson’s 10, and also scored more points in the paint (32 to 20).

On Sunday, the Tartans battled the Waynesburg University Yellow Jackets in the ECAC Championship final.

The Carnegie Mellon women got the scoring started with a three-pointer from Higgins. The Tartans and the Yellow Jackets traded shots for the first five minutes of the first quarter, bringing the score to an even 9–9. The Yellow Jackets went on an 8–0 run in the middle of the quarter to take a 17–9 lead. The Tartans then had their own 8–0 run, which included three-point shots from Filiere and first-year Megan Jaeb, tying the score 19–19 at the end the first quarter.

The second quarter continued the even competition between the teams, both maintaining their momentum with fast-paced play from the first quarter.

Like their previous games in the tournament, the Tartans made several offensive rebounds to score on second chance shots. The game was tied three times in the quarter, but with two free throws from first-year Laurel Pereira, the Tartans entered the half leading 40–37.
The second half saw the Tartans begin to slowly build a small lead over Waynesburg. Though the Yellow Jackets played aggressively on both sides of the ball, the Tartans never gave up their lead. The quarter ended with the score 56–52.

In the fourth and final quarter, the Tartans extended their lead, pulling away from the Yellow Jackets. Late in the quarter, the Tartans put the game away with a three-point play (a layup and free throw) followed by two free throws from Murphy, gaining the largest lead of the game, 80–66. The Yellow Jackets scored the final basket of the game, but the Tartans went on to win 80–69.

Murphy finished her Carnegie Mellon basketball career with a double-double, 23 points and 15 rebounds, and was named the tournament MVP. Filiere recorded 21 points, a career high, and Hudepohl added 14 rebounds and 9 points in her final game. Statistically, the Tartans and the Yellow Jackets had a relatively even game, with the Tartans field goal percentage at 43.8 percent and the Yellow Jackets at 40.3 percent. The Tartans recorded more total rebounds (46 to 32) and second chance points (20 to 12), but the Yellow Jackets scored more points in the paint (28 to 18).

With the victory on Sunday, completing the season, the Carnegie Mellon women’s basketball team tied the school record with 21 wins in the 2016-2017 season. The win marked the Tartans’ second ECAC Championship in team history.