Men’s basketball guarantees winning season, women drop

Sophomore Center Lisa Murphy goes for the opening tip. (credit: Junior Photographer) Sophomore Center Lisa Murphy goes for the opening tip. (credit: Junior Photographer) Junior Guard Jason Sebak has the ball. (credit: Junior Photographer) Junior Guard Jason Sebak has the ball. (credit: Junior Photographer)

In their Friday night double header at home, the Carnegie Mellon men’s and women’s basketball teams played in a set of nail bitters that each came down to the final minute. The women were on the wrong side of the late game heroics as they were sunk by a last second basket by the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, and senior guard MacKenzie Boyd’s desperate half-court heave was offline. On the other hand, the men were able to maintain their lead down the stretch, with three-pointers by sophomore forward Jack Serbin and junior guard Jason Sebak to seal the deal.

Opening the game, the women tried their best to break their eight game conference losing streak, with their last University Athletic Association (UAA) win against Rochester on Jan. 23. With the Tartans determined to get a win in their second-to-last home game of the season, junior forward Liza Otto and sophomore center Lisa Murphy fought hard to keep the game within reach and combined for 20 of Carnegie Mellon’s 29 first half points. Murphy, Otto, and Boyd, along with senior guard Chandler Caufield, were pressed into heavy minutes with the Tartans only playing with two reserves. All four played at least 33 minutes with Caufield and Murphy getting less than 2 minutes each on the bench all game with each getting one short stint on the bench in each half.
After going into the half down 2, 31–29, it looked like the Tartans were going to fade in the second half as they had for most of the season. The Yellowjackets quickly pushed their lead to double digits, just over five minutes into the second half.
Otto and Murphy responded by combining to cut the deficit to 5, before Caufield hit three straight threes to keep up with Rochester’s offense down the stretch.

Finally, with just under 3 minutes to go, Murphy was fouled as she made a layup, and hit the ensuing free throw to tie the game up at 56. On the next Yellowjackets’ possession, Boyd got the steal and passed up to Otto, who was fouled and made both of her subsequent free throws. This gave the Tartans their first lead since the first half. Rochester went up 3 with 1:16 remaining on a 3–pointer before Otto hit another pair of free throws to make it a one point game. After running down the shot clock, the Yellowjackets missed a long three and failed to convert on the put back attempt on the offensive rebound. Coming out of a timeout with under 30 seconds left, Otto tried to take the lead but missed her jump shot, only to have Boyd recover the offensive rebound and kick it out to Caufield, who faked out the defender on the three point line and drove to just behind the free throw line, where she hit the jump shot and gave the Tartans the lead with 11 seconds left. Without taking a timeout and giving Carnegie Mellon a chance to organize, Rochester quickly got the ball up court and into the far corner, where a tough off dribble jumper from just inside the three point line gave the Yellowjackets the final lead at 63–62. The Tartans tried to heave up a Hail Mary shot, but with no time outs, they were only able to get up to the half-court and lob it in the general direction of their basket.

The loss knocks the women down to 11–12 on the season and 2–10 in UAA play.

The men’s game had fewer late-game theatrics, although that’s probably for the best, as the Tartans controlled the game from the opening minutes with Serbin scoring the first points of the game. The first half saw Carnegie Mellon open up an early double digit lead — pushing their advantage all the way to 11 on a Sebak three pointer with less than 5 minutes to go in the half — before the Yellowjackets found their shooting stroke and cut the lead down to two with just over a minute left in the opening half.

Any momentum Rochester could have carried into the half was quickly negated, however, when in the final seconds Serbin stole the ball and went coast to coast. The half ended with a powerful two-handed slam to put the Tartans up 4, 30–26, going into the locker room.

Coming out into the second half, Carnegie Mellon quickly pushed the lead back to the comfortable multiple possession cushion they had before the Yellowjacket run. Serbin and senior guard Seth Cordts ran the offense as they had much of the year, with each alternating attacking the rim and shooting long range jumpers and threes.

With just 10:25 left in the half, Rochester managed to tie the game back up. However, a lay–up by sophomore center Chris Shkil followed by his block on the defensive end set the stage for the Tartans to put the game away once and for all, along with a three by sophomore guard Matt Hillman. Down the stretch, the Tartans played tough, aggressive defense while making their free throws and getting a pair of threes from Sebak to make sure the game was never in serious doubt again. Carnegie Mellon eventually cruised to the 64–55 victory.

With the win, the men improve to 13–10 on the season and 4–8 in UAA play. The victory also guaranteed the Tartans their first winning season since 2009.

Both Carnegie Mellon squads finished up their home seasons with a double header on Sunday, and will play their season finales at Case Western on Saturday.