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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Men’s basketball drops a pair falls to fourth in the UAA

Published: February 17, 2012
Section: Sports

The Brandeis men’s basketball team suffered a major setback this weekend in their quest for a berth into the NCAA Division III tournament. This past Friday the Judges fell at Rochester 76-61 as the Judges could just not stop the Yellowjackets’ offense, and then two days later on Sunday, the Judges failed to complete a last-minute rally against 23rd-ranked Emory as they lost 65-62. With the back-to-back losses, the Judges record fell to 12-10 (6-5 UAA) and they dropped into a fourth-place tie in the UAA with Rochester and Chicago behind Washington, Emory and NYU.

Forward Vytas Kriskus ’12 once again led the Judges with 21 points and a game-high eight rebounds with four of his boards coming on the offensive glass. Kriskus connected on 7-of-18 from the field including a three-pointer and was 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Guard Jay Freeman ’13 once again provided a spark off of the bench scoring 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc and center Youri Dascy ’14 added 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting. Unfortunately, no other Judges’ player had more than six points or three rebounds.

Brandeis was unable to stop or at the very least contain Rochester junior guard John DiBartolomeo as he scored 27 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 4-of-4 on three-pointers, and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. While as a team Brandeis connected on 43.4 percent (23-of-53) from the field, and just 25 percent (4-of-16) from beyond the arc, their defense was unable to stop the Rochester offense as the Yellowjackets shot 57.4 percent (27-of-47), and an impressive 50 percent (6-of-12) from downtown.
Brandeis started the game quickly, immediately taking a 14-8 lead in the first six minutes of play; however, Rochester quickly responded with a 16-3 run during the next five minutes to take a 24-17 lead. The Judges pulled within five points on multiple occasions, but that was as close as they ever got, as the Yellowjackets would never surrender the lead.

DiBartolomeo scored 18 of his 27 points in the first half to help Rochester build an eight-point lead at the half, while Kriskus contributed 10 points for the Judges. Rochester took a 37-29 lead to the locker room at the break.

Rochester scored the first five points of the second half quickly to stretch their lead to 13 points. The Yellowjackets kept this comfortable lead for most of the second half; however, the Judges were able to make the game interesting in the game’s closing minutes. Down 11, 62-51, with 7:11 left in the contest, Brandeis quickly went on a 6-0 run that forward Alex Stoyle ’14 capped off with a jumper to pull the Judges within five points; however, on the next Rochester possession, DiBartolomeo drew a foul and calmly drained both free throws. Furthermore the Yellowjackets scored on each of their next two possessions while getting defensive stops on the other end to stretch their lead back to 13 points and ice the game.

The Judges hoped to bounce back from their loss two days later as they traveled to Emory to face the 23rd-ranked Eagles.
Down 10 points at halftime, the Judges made a valiant rally against Emory coming back from a 12-point deficit to take a late lead and then tie the game after a three-pointer from Kriskus; however, with the game appearing to be headed into overtime, the Eagles hit a three-pointer with just three seconds left to break the tie and escape with a three-point win, 65-62. Freeman commented, “There were no defensive breakdowns on the final play. They just hit a good shot.”

Kriskus had his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Additionally, his game-tying three-pointer in the closing minute of the contest was the 150th of his career, making him just the sixth Judges player to reach the mark. Furthermore, with his 13 points, Kriskus now needs just 23 points to become the 30th player to score 1,000 points in their collegiate career. Dascy led the Judges with 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting while guard Ben Bartoldus ’14 scored 13 points as well. Guard Tyrone Hughes ’12 had six assists.

Despite outshooting the Eagles 49 percent (25-of-51) to 45.8 percent (22-of-48), the Judges were unable to get the victory. The Eagles outscored the Judges 16-6 from the free-throw line and had a 22-8 advantage in points scored off of turnovers.
Freeman added, “We put ourselves in a hole the way we played in the first half. Turnovers really hurt us, and we just couldn’t execute. We played much better in the second half, limited our turnovers, just executed better.”

The Judges lost by just three points and the 22 points that the Eagles scored off of the Judges’ 22 turnovers clearly doomed the Judges’ effort. The loss has to be disheartening for the Judges as their defensive energy and effort was drastically improved from their previous loss at Rochester. The 65 points the Eagles scored were more than 20 points below the season scoring average for Emory. Freeman continued adding, “Emory’s a great offensive team; we just couldn’t pull it out, just a tough loss. I’m proud of the effort. Everyone fought hard. Had a good run at the end, we were just a shot or two away.”

While the Judges’ prospects for a berth in the Division III NCAA tournament have taken a serious blow, the Judges can still make a case for a birth with a strong showing in their three-game home stand against UAA competition. Ultimately, the Judges’ NCAA fate will be decided by the coaches. The Judges can only worry about taking care of their own business with three-straight wins to close out the season.

Brandeis will take on conference-leading Washington this Friday at 8 p.m. as they close out the season at the home.