Behind a career-high 24 points for junior guard Javier Alvarez, the Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team opened University Athletic Association competition with a 94-81 win over Carnegie Mellon University at Horsburgh Gymnasium on Saturday night.
The Spartans, who won their second-straight game to improve to 8-4 overall, moved into a four-way tie for first in the conference with Emory University, New York University and the University of Chicago, who also all won their conference opening games on Saturday. Carnegie Mellon dropped to 7-5 (0-1 UAA) with the loss.
Alvarez was an efficient 10-for-14 from the field, including four-of-six from long range, to record his fifth-straight double-digit scoring effort off the bench, as he collected his 24 points in just 21 minutes of play. It marked the third time in the last five games that he has eclipsed his career-high scoring mark.
Senior guard Matt Clark added 23 points (20 of which came on a seven-for-10 shooting performance in the second half), six rebounds and three assists, while sophomore forward Eric Black finished with 13 points, and sophomore forward T.J. Duckett contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore forward David Black finished the game with eight rebounds, and senior guard Jimmy Holman had a team-best four assists.
The Spartans took a 17-10 lead with 12:41 remaining in the first half, before an 8-0 run by Carnegie Mellon gave the Tartans an 18-17 advantage with 10:35 to play. Back-to-back threes from Alvarez gave the Spartans the lead back at 25-20 with 7:45 remaining in the first, but CMU responded with a 5-0 run to knot the score at 25-all. From there, Case Western Reserve would take control of the remainder of the half, going on a 15-4 run to close out the first 20 minutes. The Spartans led by as many as 13 in the first half, following a three-point shot by Colin Zucker with 57 seconds remaining, and took a 40-29 lead into the break.
CWRU turned nine Carnegie Mellon turnovers into 14 points during the first half, and held a 12-4 advantage in second chance points and a 21-6 edge in points off the bench during the first frame. Eric Black led all players with 11 first half points for the Spartans.
CWRU saw its lead climb to 14 on an Alvarez three pointer with 14:47 to play that pushed the score to 55-41. Carnegie Mellon would get no closer than eight the remainder of the game, and a layup by Alvarez with 27 second left in the game gave the Spartans a 15-point lead, 94-79, their largest of Saturday's contest.
The Spartans shot 53.8% from the field in the second half to finish the game at 41.9%. CWRU outscored Carnegie Mellon 26-2 off turnovers, and held a 14-0 advantage in fast break points, while finishing with a season-high 23 offensive rebounds.
Chris Shkil led all CMU scorers with 19 points, while Jack Serbin finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Tartans.
Case Western Reserve will be back in action next weekend, continuing their three-game home stand to open UAA play against Washington University (Mo.) on Friday, January 17th at 8:00 p.m. at Horsburgh Gymnasium.