The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team picked up its fourth-straight victory on Saturday afternoon, opening University Athletic Association play with a 94-63 win over Carnegie Mellon University at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio.
The Spartans maintained the momentum they had built coming into conference play, with the team claiming its sixth win in its last seven games, and improving to 7-5 overall. Carnegie Mellon dropped to 4-8 on the campaign with the loss.
Five Case Western Reserve players registered double-figure point totals during Saturday's well-rounded scoring effort, including a team-leading 15 apiece for freshman guard Antonio Ionadi and senior forward T.J. Duckett. Ionadi shot five-of-eight overall, knocking down three of his five three-point tries, while Duckett made six-of-his seven shots and fell just one rebound shy of a double-double. Sophomore guard Monty Khela contributed 14 points, with sophomore forward Michael Hollis scoring 11 points and freshman guard Ignas Masiulionis adding 10 points.
The Spartans shot a blistering 58.1% during the first half, knocking down 18-of-31 shots overall, including seven-of-17 three-point attempts (41.2%). Four early points from Duckett and a three by sophomore guard Sam Hansen helped the Spartans surge to a 7-2 lead three minutes into the game. Carnegie Mellon would pull back within four, 15-11, with 11:09 to play in the half, but an 18-6 spur by CWRU, capped by a layup by Duckett with 6:48 left in the period, put the Spartans ahead by 17, 35-18. The 17-point advantage was the largest lead of the half for CWRU, a mark the team would match on a three by Masiulionis with 1:19 left in the period, before a late 5-0 run by the Tartans closed the gap to 47-35 by halftime.
The Spartans' bench outscored Carnegie Mellon's 26-9 during the first half, including 10 from Ionadi, who made two of his three three-point tries and four-of-five shots overall to lead all CWRU scorers. Duckett added nine points and seven rebounds, and Masiulionis made three three-pointers during the opening stanza for nine points.
Case Western Reserve would maintain a double-digit lead for the entire second half, taking a game-high 33 point lead on a three-pointer by freshman forward Cade Kinney-Shackelford with 2:58 remaining in the contest. Sophomore forward Connor Nally scored all eight of his points in the second half, with Khela and Hollis adding seven apiece during the period, as the Spartans shot 64.0% (16-of-25) from the floor during the half, including six-of eight (75.0%) from behind the three-point line.
It was the best shooting game of the season for Case Western Reserve, which finished the contest at 60.7% (34-of-56) overall, the team's highest shooting percentage in a game since connecting on 61.1% of their attempts from the floor on February 4, 2011 against the University of Chicago. The team's 52.0% mark from three-point range (13-of-25) was CWRU's highest since shooting 60.0% from three (nine-for-15) against Penn State – Behrend on January 2, 2016. The Spartans also made 13-of-14 (92.9%) of their free throw attempts.
The Spartans outrebounded the Tartans 45-25 and finished the wire-to-wire victory with a 55-19 edge in points off the bench.
Seth Henry led Carnegie Mellon with 16 points, while Ryan Maha added 14 for the Tartans on Saturday.
The four-game winning streak is the longest for the Spartans since winning six-in-a-row during the 2014-15 campaign.
Also winning their opening games of conference play on Saturday were Emory (80-62 over #22 Rochester), #10 Washington (79-78 over Chicago) and New York University (90-82 over Brandeis) for an early four-way tie for first atop the UAA standings.
The Spartans will be back in action next weekend for their first UAA road trip of the season. Case Western Reserve will travel to Rochester, New York next Friday, January 12th to begin their weekend against the 22nd-ranked University of Rochester at 8:00 p.m.