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NCAA tournament basketball wrap up

Published: March 9, 2007
Section: Sports


PROVIDINCE, RI – In an intense, fast-paced, physical match-up, the Brandeis men's basketball team saw its season come to a close at the hands of the Rhode Island College Anchormen 70-67 Saturday night in the second round of the Division III NCAA tournament in Providence, RI.

The Judges were down by 18 with 10 minutes left in the game. They finished the game on a 17-5 run, but still came up short on a missed second chance opportunity three-pointer by Steve DeLuca 08.

I kind of thought it might of had a chance to bank in, but it was way off. I had a great look, weve hit these shots before so I mean… We were so close, DeLuca said.
The Judges started the game firing on all cylinders as they took a quick 17-7 lead and appeared poised to create another upset in the tournament. Their hot start was ignited by Florian Rexhepis 08 16 first-half points, six of which came off of two three-point shots that helped create the opening run.

The Anchormen put an end to the Judges' run and finished the first half with a 43-40 lead.

The opening lead for the Judges was actually detrimental in the long run. The Judges tasted the three-point shot and searched for it throughout the rest of the game. Rexhepi was unable to find it, as he finished the game 2-6 from the three-point line and was held to three points for the entire second-half, ending the game with 19 points. The team followed this pattern, connecting on only 25.9% of their threes, going 7-25 from the arc.

You know we hit a few early and, you know, that damn shot. You know its somewhat seductive. Before you know it youre taking more than you should, Brandeis University Head Coach Brian Meehan said.

DeLuca and Rexhepi carried the scoring load for the Judges, as DeLuca finished with a game high 20 points and eight rebounds and Rexhepi added his 19 points. No one else on the team scored in double figures, but Kwame Graves-Fulgham 08 led the game in rebounds with 10.

Though these were stellar individual performances, they were not enough to top the Anchormens well-balanced attack, as four of their players scored in double figures. Their leading scorer was Bobby Bailey with 14 points. Bailey had a knack for penetrating the Judges' defense and creating easy shots for himself as he slashed to the hole throughout the game.

The young Judges were able to get a taste of how physically demanding the NCAA tournament is, as they came into this game just coming off of an overtime thrilling upset in which they defeated the Trinity College Bantams, a team which d3hoops.com predicted to make it to the national championship game, 77-70. DeLuca led the team with 24 points, including the 10 points he provided in overtime. Coppens, after some brief struggles in the beginning of the game, finished with 17 points and a team leading nine rebounds. Rexhepi scored Brandeiss first seven points but was then held in check;

he managed to finish with 14 points. Graves-Fulgham was efficient, missing only one field goal attempt and making his only three attempt, leaving him with eight points and a team leading five assists. However, it was apparent that the team was still feeling the after-effects of 45-minute basketball.

I think last night took a lot out of us, we were tired. I think fatigue kind of drew into a little bit of mental mistakes, Coach Meehan said.

Those mental mistakes were evident through their statistics as the Judges, a team whose average field goal percentage is 46.3%, shot 37.3% from the field and turned the ball over at crucial moments down the stretch.

One spark that helped the Judges rally in the end to turn the game from a blowout to a thriller was the Brandeis fan support. Brandeis University students filled half of the Rhode Island College gymnasium and challenged the Anchormens home court advantage.

Though the Judges came out defeated, they earned a great degree of respect on the national stage as they proved to be a fighting force and a challenging underdog.
Brandeis did a great job, give them credit, Rhode Island College Head Coach Bob Walsh said.