Case Western Reserve University sophomore Hillary Hellmann scored 31 of her career-high 35 points in the second half to lead the Spartans to their biggest win of the season thus far, an 87-78 upset win at 10th-ranked Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the opening game of University Athletic Association play on Saturday.
The win was the Spartans' first of the season against a ranked opponent, as the team improved to 9-3 overall, and joined Rochester, Brandeis and Chicago as the conference teams to win their opening game of the UAA season. Meanwhile, Case Western Reserve University dealt Carnegie Mellon its first setback of the campaign and its first loss in its last 14 regular season games (dating back to last season), as the Tartans dropped to 11-1 on the year.
Hellmann shot 12-of-21 from the field, and surpassed her previous career-high of 31 points, set earlier this season in a win over John Carroll University. It was the most points scored in a game by a Spartan player since Evy Iacono tallied a program-record 38 against Carnegie Mellon on January 5, 2013. She went six-for-nine from long range, tying her career-best mark for made threes in a game, and added six rebounds and four steals in the game.
Junior forward Kara Hageman added 14 points and eight rebounds, while blocking a career-high six shots. Senior guard Jess McCoy finished the game with 16 points, and freshman guard Kendall McConico came off the bench to score 12 for the Spartans.
Hageman scored 10 points in the first half, including three on a shot with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter that gave the Spartans a 9-7 lead. Case Western Reserve would lead by as many as four in the first period, and close out the first 10 minutes with a 14-12 advantage. A jumper by McConico and a three-pointer by freshman guard Alicia Marie Gonzales to start the second pushed the Spartans lead to a seven points, 19-12, with 8:37 remaining in the half. However, Carnegie Mellon went on a 9-0 run over the next three minutes to retake the lead. The teams would exchange advantages over the final five minutes, with the Tartans ending the first half leading 29-28.
Hellmann would come alive in the third quarter, scoring 20 points during the period, while connecting on seven-of-nine shots from the field and four-of-five from long range during the quarter. Despite trailing by as many as six in the third, the Spartans would battle back behind Hellmann's hot shooting, tying the game on a jumper by Hellmann with 1:25 remaining in the third. The score would remain tied heading into the final period.
With the game tied at 66-66 and 5:19 remaining, the Spartans 10-0 run, capped off by a three-pointer by Hellmann to push the score to 77-67 with 2:31 left. Case Western Reserve connected on 10 free throws down the stretch to secure the win.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 41.2% from the field and 33.3% from long range, including a 54.3% mark (19-for-35) from the field and 58.3% (seven-for-12) from long range in the second half alone. Case Western Reserve forced 19 turnovers in the game, and outscored Carnegie Mellon 23-4 in points off turnovers.
Lisa Murphy led the Tartans with a career-high matching 37 points and 16 rebounds in the game, while Makayla Filiere added 20 points for Carnegie Mellon.
The Spartans will continue their three-game road trip to open conference play next weekend, when the team travels to New York, New York to face the NYU Violets at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 13th.