Junior forward Cale Martens passes the ball to sophomore forward Jair Knight in a game against Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) on Nov. 27, 2023. (Natalie Sandlow/Asst. Visual Editor)

Emory University Men’s Basketball Head Coach Jason Zimmerman said that the crowd for the men’s and women’s basketball teams’ games against Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) (Ohio) on Jan. 19 was “one of the best” he’s seen during his 17 years coaching at Emory. 

While the men’s team fell to CWRU, they beat Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (Pa.) on Jan. 21. The women’s team won both of their contests against CWRU and CMU, maintaining their perfect home record this season.

Men’s team come up short against No. 2 CWRU, defeat CMU

The Eagles entered the matchup ranked No. 22 against No. 2 CWRU at home. Emory began the first half of the play with four free throws as well as a three-pointer from sophomore guard Ben Pearce to give them an early lead against the Spartans.

CWRU responded with two three-pointers from graduate guard Anthony Mazzeo and junior guard Sam Trunley to tie the game 13-13. The remainder of play went head-to-head with each team knocking down layups and three-pointers. Momentum shifted towards CWRU with nine minutes to go as Trunley scored three straight threes to extend the lead to 12.

Though Emory tried to claw themselves back into the game with scoring outputs from sophomore forward Jair Knight and Pearce, who totaled 11 and 10 respectively at the end of the first half, the Spartans held them down by capitalizing on free throws and offensive rebounds.

The second half saw a hot 13-6 run from the Eagles, but the Spartans responded with a 10-0 run of their own. However, fouls committed by the Spartans and key rebounds from junior forward Logan Shanahan brought the game within six points.

Foul trouble plagued CWRU and eventually shortened their lead to three. After a series of possessions, the Spartans converted two free throws by junior forward Umar Rashid to lead 89-86. Sophomore guard John Coppolino IV fouled Turnley, who made 1-2 free throws to close the game out. The Spartans defeated the Eagles 90-86.

Shanahan, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds, said that Trunley’s three-point shooting ultimately gave CWRU the edge to win the game.

“We definitely lost [Turnley] a couple of times in transition, and we really let him get going,” Shanahan said. “Once he sees a couple of goals in, he’s going to make more … It ended up hurting us for him to get 33 points, which is his career high, so it’s hard to win a game when that happens.”

Zimmerman nevertheless said he was impressed with the team’s resilience throughout the entire game.

“No matter what happened, we’ve been able to stay in the middle of the ring and keep fighting,” Zimmerman said. “That’s a great testament to our guys, and our guys are relatively young — they’re experienced, but they’re young — and to be able to stay with that is something that we look to build on.”

The men’s coach also acknowledged the support from fans during the game against CWRU.

“The support that the women’s program and the men’s program got on Friday night was outstanding,” Zimmerman said. “It really helped us.”

The Eagles bounced back from the defeat against the No. 2 team in the country with a win against the CMU Tartans. Emory trailed the Tartans for most of the first half, but the Eagles kept the score tight. Freshman forward Ethan Fauss made three three-point shots later in the half, and the score remained close at 49-47 heading into halftime.

A 9-0 stretch from the Eagles in the second half propelled the team into a 67-59 lead. However, the Tartans came back towards the end of the second half and eventually shortened Emory’s lead to one and two. Shanahan noted that a multitude of factors led to CMU’s run.

“In that stretch, they got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Shanahan said. “They were shooting threes … and we also didn’t take the best shots in that stretch. We kind of took the first shot available. Even if it was a decent one, we could have gotten better ones.”

Emory kept the edge on their opponents despite the close game, scoring 16 points off turnovers and 24 on the fast break throughout the entire game.

With Emory making 7-8 free throws in the final stretch, the game ended as a 90-84 win for Emory, helping the team improve their University Athletic Association (UAA) record to 2-3 and overall record to 11-5. The team will play Brandeis University (Mass.) away on Jan. 26 and No. 13 New York University (NYU) on Jan. 28 to continue their UAA matchups.

Women’s team pick up 2 wins at home

Before tip-off, the Emory community celebrated graduate guard Claire Brock on reaching 1,000 career points. Brock noted she was “aiming” to accomplish that goal before the season.

“To be able to accomplish that’s really exciting for me,” Brock said. “It makes it more exciting that I get to do it alongside my teammates.”

After the celebration, the Eagles entered the game ranked No. 10, looking to improve their 12-2 overall record and 2-1 UAA record. Unranked CWRU found their rhythm early in the contest with a 7-0 run in the first four minutes.

The Spartans held a steady lead over the Eagles, capitalizing on threes and free throws. 

Emory eventually made their way into the contest with seven straight points from Brock as well as a layup from sophomore center Katherine Martini to tie the matchup 25-25. Twelve seconds later, freshman forward Alexandra Loucopoulos made a jump shot to give the Eagles the lead 27-25. The Eagles extended their lead to nine points, ending the half 36-27.

Despite a large 11-point lead in the beginning of the third quarter, Emory gave CWRU the lead after committing a series of shooting fouls. Down by six with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, a layup from CWRU senior forward Kayla Characklis and a three from freshman guard Mya Hartjes cut Emory’s lead to one. A layup by Characklis gave the Spartans their first lead since the second quarter.

However, a crucial layup by Martini cut CWRU’s lead to one. CWRU committed a few fouls to which Brock eventually converted to give the Eagles a one-point lead. Characklis committed another foul on junior guard Daniella Aronsky and brought the score to 57-55.

After an intentional foul with four seconds to go in the game, Brock converted two free throws to close the game out 61-55. She said that the Eagles’ emphasis on defense helped them defeat CWRU.

“We knew that we had to execute offensively, but we had to stop what they were wanting to do on their offensive end,” Brock said. “I think locking in on defense and getting the mindset of ‘We’re not going to lose’ made the difference in the game there.”

Two days later, the Eagles faced the CMU Tartans at home. The team went scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game until Brock and sophomore guard and forward Chloe Kreusser opened it with an offensive barrage. Two consecutive three point shots from Brock helped establish a 14-6 lead, and the first quarter ended 20-12 in the Eagles’ favor.

Eight points from Loucopoulos in the second quarter helped Emory establish a 33-31 lead heading into halftime. CMU kept the score close in the third quarter, but Emory maintained control of the game, shooting 44.1% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc.

A late three-point shot from Aronsky secured the 62-52 win for the Eagles, improving their conference record to 4-1 and overall record to 14-2, as well as extending their unbeaten run at home.

“It’s one of our goals to remain undefeated at home,” Kreusser said. “It definitely gives us a push each and every game especially at home to maintain that record.”

The No. 10 team in the country will take on Brandeis on the road on Jan. 26 and No. 1 NYU on Jan. 28.

“We know we have some tough competition this weekend playing NYU, but [we] take each game one at a time,” Kreusser said.

+ posts

Clement Lee (he/him) (24Ox) is from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is on the pre-BBA track. Outside the Wheel, Clement can be found reading new books or going on long runs in the woods.

+ posts

Madeline Shapiro (she/her) (26C) is from Stamford, Connecticut and is planning on majoring in creative writing and classic civilizations. She enjoys playing low-stakes games of soccer and spending time outdoors, as well as watching as many Premier League games as possible.