On Saturday evening at Horsburgh Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio, the Case Western Reserve University men's basketball team defeated Carnegie Mellon University 88-81 to start University Athletic Association play. With the win, the Spartans improve to 8-4 on the season and 1-0 in the conference, while the Tartans fall to 7-5 and 0-1 in the UAA.
In his first career start, first-year forward Cole Frilling led all scorers and tied a career-high with 27 points, collected seven rebounds, and blocked four shots. Junior guard Antonio Ionadi added a season-high 20 points and made six three-pointers on nine attempts, one short of the program record for made threes. Sophomore guard Robert Faller, with a career-high 17 points and six assists, and sophomore forward Ryan Newton, who scored 10, allowed the Spartans' bench to outscore their Tartan counterparts 30-9.
Case Western Reserve took a 5-4 lead with 15:38 to play in the second half, and would never trail again in the contest, building a 15-8 advantage nine minutes into the game. The Spartans pushed ahead for a 13-point advantage with seven minutes remaining in the first half, leading the Tartans 29-16. On the defensive end, CWRU held Carnegie Mellon to just 34.4% from the field in the first half and forced five turnovers. CMU chipped away at the deficit for the rest of the half, cutting the Spartan lead to just 39-33 at the break.
Senior forward Michael Hollis excelled on both ends of the floor in the first half, scoring four points and collecting a team-high five rebounds. He finished the game with seven points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
The Tartans used an 8-2 run early in the second half to cut the Spartan lead to just three, but Ionadi responded with three-pointers on two consecutive possessions to stop the CMU momentum. CWRU pushed the lead to 10, 55-45, five minutes into the half on a three-pointer from Faller.
Carnegie Mellon responded and cut the deficit to five, 60-55, midway through the half. On the strength of eight straight points, the Spartans pushed ahead by 13 again, 68-55, with eight minutes remaining in the game. Frilling gave CWRU a 14-point lead, its largest lead of the night, with a three-pointer with just under seven minutes left.
The Tartans again responded and cut their deficit to just six points with an 8-0 run of their own. Though CWRU would try to put the game away, CMU fought back and only faced a five-point deficit, 79-74, with two minutes left in the game. The Tartans used a 15-5 run to remain within two possessions.
Carnegie Mellon cut the deficit to three, 84-81, with 23.7 seconds left, but junior guard Michael Volkening countered with two free throws. He then stole the ball on the other end and clinched the win with two more free throws, scoring all four of his points in the final minute.
The Spartans continue conference play on Friday, January 17 when they host the No. 13 Bears from Washington (Mo.) University. Tipoff inside Horsburgh Gymnasium is scheduled for 8 p.m.