PITTSBURGH, PA – Backed by a strong defensive effort and some excellent ball protection, the 22nd-ranked University of Rochester men's basketball team picked up a key road win, defeating Carnegie Mellon University 79-58 on Friday evening at Skibo Gymnasium.
The Yellowjackets (19-4, 9-3 UAA) committed a season low six turnovers, and held the home Tartans (10-13, 5-7 UAA) to just 34% shooting and 58 points, two off their season low.
Senior Jacob Wittig led Rochester with a season-high 19 points, coming on 7-13 shooting, including 3-4 from behind the arc. Friday night was Wittig's 100th career start in a UR uniform, making him just the fourth player in school history to start 100 games.
The bench also played a key role in the victory, with UR's reserves outscoring the Tartan bench 35-15. Trent Noordsij contributed a career-high 13 points while Ryan Algier added 12 points and seven rebounds. Brian Amabilino Perez also played a season high seven minutes and contributed five points for Rochester. Ryan Clamage also ended with 13 points.
Carnegie Mellon's leading scorer was Zach Howarth who finished with 15 points. Seth Henry had a strong game inside, contributing 14 points and nine rebounds.
Rochester led wire-to-wire in this one, with CMU only tying the score twice in the opening minutes. UR's defense was strong early, holding the Tartans without a field goal through the first six and half minutes of play.
Leading 15-11, Rochester used an 8-2 burst, aided by two Patrick Benka 3-pointers to surge ahead by double-digits, leading 25-13 with 7:24 remaining in the opening half. Benka would finish with eight points.
The Tartans would only get the deficit down to nine the rest of the half and ended up going to intermission down 12, at 39-27, following a Wittig trey.
Benka scored the opening two points of the second half for Rochester, but the Yellowjackets then went cold for a bit, allowing CMU to score eight of the next 10 points to trim the lead down to seven with 16:42 on the clock.
An Algier putback stopped the run and the Yellowjackets put the pedal to the metal the rest of the way. The lead got back to 12 following an Alexander Gamble driving layup with 13:31 left.
Back-to-back Wittig 3-pointers then boosted the lead to 21, putting the Tartans away.
Rochester remains in a tie for first place in the UAA standings with Emory University who defeated Case Western Reserve 83-71 on Friday. Both teams are 9-3 with two games remaining in the conference slate.
The Yellowjackets travel to CWRU on Sunday while Emory heads to Pittsburgh to take on Carnegie Mellon. Both games tip at noon.