WALTHAM, Mass. - Four of the five Brandeis University men's basketball starters scored in double figures today as the Judges outlasted the visiting Tufts University Jumbos, 87-72, in a non-conference match-up in Auerbach Arena tonight.
Brandeis (7-5) snapped a three-game skid behind a career-best 23 points from rookie forward Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.), who hit nine-of-11 from the floor, including all three 3-pointers, and went two-for-two from the line. He also pulled down seven rebounds and had four assists. Classmate Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) registered his first career double-double with 18 points and a career- and game-high 11 assists. He also led all players with five steals, as the Judges produced a season-high 14 swipes. Fellow first-year and backcourt mate Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) had 20 points for the second time this season by hitting eight-of-16 from the floor with a pair of trifectas and two free throws. Senior forward Bryan Lambert (Auburn, Maine) rounded out the double-digit scorers with 14 points, including 12 in the second half. He also led the Judges with nine rebounds and had a five assists.
Tufts (6-5) was paced by 20 points from senior forward Reggie Stovell (Washington, D.C.). Stovell hit for nine-of-19 from the floor with a 3-pointer and a free throw. He also led all players with 10 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Rookie guard Ryan O'Keefe (Everett, Mass.) came off the bench for 12 points, hitting six-of-14 shots, while sophomore forward Brian Kumf (Milford, Mass.) had 11 points, three boards, three assists and a team-high three steals. Sophomore guard David Shepherd (Grantham, N.H.) led the Jumbos with eight assists.
Stovell and Rexhepi were the offensive stars of the early parts of the contest. Stovell scored Tufts' first 12 points of the game, while Rexhepi had 11 of the Judges' first 13 points. The lead changed hands 11 times over the first five minutes as the two before a Kumf bucket gave Tufts a 14-10 lead. Brandeis answered with a 12-0 over the next four minutes that was capped by a dunk by DeLuca that gave them a 22-14 lead. Tufts responded with a 13-4 run of their own to regain a brief 27-26 lead at the 6:51 mark. Brandeis rookie Joe Coppens (Rockland, Maine) converted a fast break bucket to give the hosts a lead they would not relinquish. The Judges closed the first half on a 14-6 run to take a 40-33 halftime lead. DeLuca and Stovell each had 16 points in the first half to lead their teams.
Brandeis scored the first five points of the second half to take a 12-point lead. While Tufts climbed within six points a couple of times, the Judges shot 63 percent from the floor (17-27) to lead by as many as 18 points before taking the 15-point decision.