The Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team fell on the road to Carnegie Mellon University in the opening game of University Athletic Association play, suffering an 85-71 setback to the Tartans in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday.
The loss was the third straight for the Spartans, who fell to 7-5 overall. Carnegie Mellon improved to 6-6 with the victory.
The defeat came despite an impressive showing for the Case Western Reserve bench, which outscored the Tartans' reserves 40-17 in the game. Leading the way was junior guard Monty Khela, who finished the day with a season-high 14 points and five rebounds on a seven-of-18 shooting effort off the bench. Freshman forward Ryan Newton added 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks in a reserve role, while sophomore guard Michael Volkening led all CWRU starters with 11 points in the game. Adding to the team's presence down low, junior forward Michael Hollis finished the game with nine points, 14 rebounds and a career-high five blocks.
Case Western Reserve struggled with its three-point shot in the opening half, converting just four-of-18 attempts (22.2%). Two of the four threes came in the first four minutes of the game, with long-range shots by Newton junior guard Sam Hansen giving CWRU a 7-4 lead with 16:06 to play. Carnegie Mellon responded with a 10-0 run over the next two minutes to go ahead 14-7, before a three-pointer by Hollis ended the Spartans' scoreless stretch. After a layup by the Tartans, Khela scored six points over a two-minute stretch to key a 9-0 spurt that put CWRU ahead 19-16 with 9:14 remaining. However, Carnegie Mellon outscored CWRU 19-6 over the final nine minutes of the half, including a 9-0 stretch to close the half, taking a 35-25 lead after the first 20 minutes of play.
The Spartans would get back within two points midway through the second half, due in part to a three from freshman forward Solomon Wells and a layup and a free throw by freshman guard Robert Faller that cut the Tartans' lead to 49-47 with 9:37 to play. However, Carnegie Mellon answered with a 6-0 run to expand their lead back to eight, and would continue to pull away, building its lead to as many as 17, 79-62, with 2:47 remaining in the game.
Carnegie Mellon's Seth Henry led all players in the game with 25 points, pacing four Tartan players in double-figures. He also added a team-best 13 rebounds in the game.
The Spartans will return home next weekend to play their first home UAA games of the season at Horsburgh Gymnasium. Case Western Reserve is slated to face New York University at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 11th and Brandeis University on Sunday, January 13th at 12:00 p.m.