After suffering their first defeat in the last six games — a 76-73 heartbreaker to Case Western Reserve University, the Yellowjackets were eager for a pick-me-up victory this past weekend to once again lift their spirits and resume the mad charge through the University Athletic Association, which has been going on since the start of February. Such a feat would not be easy, however, as UR would have to best the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans.
The Yellowjackets remembered the Tartans well. Just over a month ago, the yellow and blue needed a last-second, 3-point jumper from senior guard Chris Dende to tie CMU at the buzzer and force overtime. The home team went on to crush the Tartans from there, ultimately finishing with an 8-point differential in the 72-64 win, yet the game marked the closest any team had come in recent memory to defeating the Yellowjackets at the Palestra, where the team hasn’t lost a regular season game in their last 19 matchups.
When UR took to the Tartans’ own court, at the Skibo Gym in Pittsburgh, Pa., they had every intention of gaining a quick upper hand and putting a lot of ground between them and the now-reeling Tartans, who toted a measly 8-15 record (3-9 in the UAA) entering the game. Though the jump-ahead, stay-ahead method didn’t work entirely, the Yellowjackets ultimately overwhelmed the opposition, 81-74, to sweep the season series with CMU.
After matching the Tartans seemingly point-for-point early in the first half, UR used a 5-2 run in the half’s final minutes to open an eight-point lead entering halftime (38-30), and surged to a 52-38 advantage after freshman guard Kevin Sheehy hit both free throws with 12:44 remaining.
CMU immediately responded, going on an 18-2 run in the next 4:20 to take a 67-64 lead. Tartans’ guards Andre Moore and Sean Brophy combined for 10 points in the span, and guard Rashaun Riley — who led the Tartans with 18 points on the day — delivered the final blow with a 3-pointer with 6:08 to play to earn the advantage. It looked as if the teams were destined to duke it out in overtime yet again.
The ’Jackets, however, were not in the mood for such shenanigans, blanking the Tartans with a 10-0 run in the game’s final 2:02 to put the Tartans away, 81-74.
Senior forward Nate Novosel and junior guard John DiBartolomeo led UR’s spot-on shooting, each contributing 20 points in the win. Novosel was 8-of-10 from the line, while DiBartolomeo was 11-for-13. As in the last matchup between the teams, Dende again played an instrumental role as well, going 6-of-8 from the floor and pouring in 18 points.
The Yellowjackets host Emory University in the regular season finale this Saturday, Feb. 25.
Bernstein is a member of
the class of 2014.