(PITTSBURGH, Pa.) - The Carnegie Mellon University men's basketball team opened the 29th Annual Carnegie Mellon DoubleTree Green Tree Invitational on Saturday with a 71-70 win over the visiting Sea Gulls of Salisbury University. The win marks the third straight for the Tartans, as they improve to 3-2 the Sea Gulls move to 3-5.
Carnegie Mellon shot 43.1% from the floor for the game. Salisbury converted 14-of-28 (50%) from the floor in the first half and then shot 36.1% in the second half to finish shooting 42.2% from the field for the contest. The Cardinal and Gray's bench outscored Salisbury's, 21-14, it marked the third straight game the Tartans bench has topped their opponents.
Junior Ethan Miller (King of Prussia, Pa./Upper Merion) led a trio of Tartans in double figures with 15 points. Senior Colin McNeil (Ringoes, N.J./Hunterdon Central Regional) matched a season-high with 13 points while junior Joey Krempa (Linden, N.J.) scored 11 coming off the bench. McNeil handed out eight assists in the win.
Salisbury also had a trio score in double figures with Mike Ward leading the way with a game-high 19 points. Gary Briddell and Lucas Martin each had 17 and 14 points, respectively. Johnny Fierstein grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for the Sea Gulls who out rebounded the Tartans 45-41.
Senior Trent Suddeth (Winter Park, Fla./Trinity Prep) scored the first basket of the game 24 seconds into play. The Tartan then would go without a field goal over the next nine minutes and trailed 18-5. The Sea Gulls maintained the lead and matched their highest leadoff the game at 31-18 with 4:37 to play in the first half. Carnegie Mellon then scored 16 of the last 20 points of the half and trailed 35-34 at the break.
The lead stayed with Salisbury until the 13:28 mark when freshman Nick Nakasian (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) scored on a fast break layup after forcing a Sea Gull mishap. From there, the lead changed hands six more times over the next four minutes with a McNeil free throw with 9:22 to play gave the Tartans a 57-56 lead, one that was never lost. Carnegie Mellon took its largest lead of the half with 5:27 to play following a pair of free throws by senior Zach Howarth (Freehold, N.J./St. John Vianney), but the Sea Gulls didn't go away.
With 10.7 seconds left in the game and the Tartans leading 71-66, Carnegie Mellon missed a pair of foul shots. Ward then took an outlet pass and pulled up from behind the arc and the ball sailed through the net to make the score 71-69 with 5.3 ticks on the clock. Carnegie Mellon was fouled and sent to the line for a pair of foul shots, both shots fell short. Salisbury's Ward then grabbed the rebound and as he was driving up the court was fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one with 0.6 seconds left. Ward connected on the first with his second bouncing out, but Devin Garrett was able to tip the ball towards the rim for one last attempt, which fell short.
Carnegie Mellon will host La Roche College on Wednesday, December 4 at 7:00 p.m.