PITTSBURGH -- Eighth-ranked Washington (Mo.) extended its winning streak to nine games with a 94-81 win at Carnegie Mellon in University Athletic Association play Sunday afternoon.
With the win, Washington improved to 14-2 overall and 5-0 in the UAA, marking the first 5-0 start to conference play for the Bears since the 2008-09 season. Carnegie Mellon dropped to 9-7 overall and 2-3 in the UAA.
Washington jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the opening 2:39 of the game behind three consecutive steals that led to baskets for the Bears. After taking a timeout, Carnegie Mellon got on the scoreboard and chipped away at the Bears’ lead, trimming it to 23-19 with 11:12 to play in the first half. Washington answered by holding the Tartans scoreless during the next 3:54. The Bears went on a 12-0 run, including a pair of 3s by junior forward Matt Palucki, to take their largest lead of the half (35-19) with 7:36 left in the first half.
Carnegie Mellon rallied to within 42-36, but a basket and free throw by Palucki stretched the lead back to nine. A free throw by junior guard David Fatoki with 40.4 seconds left in the half gave the Bears a nine-point lead, but Carnegie Mellon got a layup with 1 second left to make the score 48-41 at halftime.
Senior forward Chris Klimek took over in the first 7 minutes of the second half, scoring 10 of the Bears’ first 16 points of the half as the Bears stretched their lead to 69-52 with 12:52 remaining. The Tartans used a 9-0 run to pull to within 69-61, before a three-point play by sophomore forward Brandon Staffeil and Palucki’s fifth 3-pointer of the game made it a 14-point lead. A fastbreak layup by Staffeil with 3:42 left gave Washington its largest lead of the game (81-64), but Carnegie Mellon answered with a 12-3 run to again cut the lead to single digits (84-76) with 1:16 on the clock. Palucki and senior guard Alan Aboona went 10 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final 1:06 to seal the win for Washington.
Washington shot 51.7 percent (30 of 58) from the field in the game, including 7 of 17 (41.2 percent) from 3-point range. The Bears also converted a season-high 27 free throws (27 of 31). Carnegie Mellon shot 49.2 percent (29 of 59) from the field, including 10 of 22 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The Tartans were 13 of 19 at the free-throw line. Washington also finished with a 35-28 advantage in rebounding.
Palucki led all scorers with 27 points, equaling his career high with five 3-pointers. Klimek had 22 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and a blocked shot before fouling out late in the game. Aboona tallied 15 points, including 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. Staffeil scored in double figures for the first time in his career, finishing with a career-high 12 points off the bench, all in the second half. Junior forward Nick Burt also finished in double figures for the Bears with 10 points, five rebounds and three assists, while senior guard Tim Cooney had a team-high seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.