Men’s and women’s basketball teams face off at UChicago

The Carnegie Mellon Basketball teams went on the road this week to face University of Chicago in a Friday women’s and men’s doubleheader. The Tartans went 1–1 on the evening with the men coming within two seconds of a Carnegie Mellon sweep.

The women started the matchup and held steady with the Maroons through the first half. For the first 10 minutes, the Tartans were playing an in-and-out offense with all of their points coming on layups, free throws or three-point shots. Senior guard Jacquie Shaw started to open up the game, giving the Tartans a four-point lead about four minutes in on an easy transition layup and foul, with the additional free throw making it a two possession game.

This run was quickly answered by a Maroons three-pointer, and the score was stuck at 14–13 for the next several minutes as both teams missed shots and suffered from turnovers. In an attempt to get things going, the Maroons implemented an unusual full-team substitution with all five players on the court going to the bench. This did not have the desired effect, as both teams were still mired in poor shooting and sloppy ball handling.

Both offenses finally started showing signs of life in the later stages of the first half, with the Maroons opening up a five-point lead after back-to-back three-pointers only to be answered later by back-to-back three-pointers by junior guard Gabrielle West.

After another layup and one from Shaw, West followed up with two more quick threes to stretch the Tartan lead to six. The Maroons pulled back to within one with under 30 seconds to go in the half after a layup and their own three-pointer, but West drilled her fifth three-pointer of the half with under two seconds to go to give Carnegie Mellon a 41–37 lead going into the half.

Coming out of half, the Tartans extended their lead with early points from first-year center-forward Lisa Murphy and junior forward Liza Otto. Junior guard Chandler Caufield and West each hit a three-pointer to give the Tartans their first double-digit lead.

The Maroons continued their rapid-fire, three-point offense, hitting three straight to keep the game within reach. The Tartans kept up with the blistering pace, keeping the lead until two minutes were left in the game when a pair of Maroons free throws finally tied up the game.

They pulled out an 84–77 victory with the help of five of six free-throw shooting down the stretch from Shaw and Otto. West’s torrid three-point shooting tied her own school record as she finished with seven made three-pointers and a team-leading 23 points.

For the men, the road trip was a good chance to clear their head, at least to start the game. Fourteen points by junior forward-guard Seth Cordts, including four three-pointers in the first nine minutes, helped the Tartans open up a fast double-digit lead.

Chicago started pulling back in with a three-pointer and a powerful dunk, but back-to-back threes by first-year forward Jack Serbin and senior guard Rashaun Riley pushed the lead back to 10. A series of layups by senior forward-guard Christian Manoli gave Carnegie Mellon a 14-point lead with under three minutes to play in the half.

The Maroons tried to close the lead, but a three-point shot by senior guard Asad Meghani and another Manoli free throw gave the Tartans a 42–38 lead going into half time.

Chicago came out on fire, forcing several bad Carnegie Mellon free throws and quickly cutting the lead to five. Manoli and Cordts continued carrying the team as they combined for nine points for the Tartans coming out of the half and managed to push the lead back to 10.

The turning point for the Tartans was a foul and subsequent technical foul by junior center-forward Matt Loebbaka. Loebbaka has shown a bit of a temper this season and had his passion spill out on to the court on more than one occasion. This time it really cost Carnegie Mellon as Chicago hit four free throws and used this swing in momentum to finally mount their second-half charge.

The Tartans interior defense fell after this point as they gave up easy layups left and right. The complete lack of rim protection meant that the Carnegie Mellon offensive, which had been clicking up to this point, was no longer afforded the easy transitional baskets used to set their tempo, and they were forced to constantly set up out of the half-court offense.

Ultimately, the Maroons took the lead with just under two minutes to go in the half. The Tartans attempted a comeback with Manoli regaining the lead with 28 seconds left on a jump shot, but a Chicago three-pointer with just under two seconds remaining ended Carnegie Mellon’s dream of a clean sweep with the men falling 79–77.

For both teams, this weekend was an example of the play they have been capable of, but for the men it was also an example of the inconsistent and occasionally undisciplined play that has cost them several wins this season.