WALTHAM, Mass. - The host Brandeis University men's basketball team forced a season-high 20 turnovers and shot 56 percent from the floor (32-57) as the host Judges soundly defeated visiting UMass-Dartmouth, 91-62, in Auerbach Arena. The win is BrandeisBs fifth straight, their longest winning streak since the 1994-95 season.
Brandeis (6-2) trailed only once in the game, at the 16:52 mark of the first. UMass-Dartmouth (3-3) hit three straight baskets, two by senior guard Joe Britto (New Bedford, Mass.) to take a 6-5 lead.
The Judges answered with a 22-6 run over the next seven minutes to take a 27-11 lead midway through the period. The run was sparked by an offensive rebound from senior Bryan Lambert (Auburn, Maine) that was followed up by three straight 3-pointers, two by rookie Rocco Toppi (Portland, Maine) and one from senior Omri Ayalon (Potsdam, N.Y.).
Brandeis led by as many as 21 in the first and took a 48-28 lead into halftime by hitting on 50 percent from beyond the arc (7-14) while the Corsairs were just three-of-13 (23 percent). UMass-Darmouth never got closer than 17 points in the second half, while Brandeis led by as many as 33 before finishing with the 29-point margin.
The Judges placed three players in double figures for the sixth time in eight games this season. Rookie guard Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) led the way for the third game in a row with a career-high 23 points off the bench. He hit eight-of-11 from the floor with one 3-pointer and was a perfect six-of-six from the line. He also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals. Toppi and Lambert also reached double figures. Toppi hit six-of-nine overall and five-of-seven from range for 17 points, while Lambert had 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds, tied for game-high honors. Rookie Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) added eight assists, the third time this season he has reached that plateau, while making just two turnovers.
UMass-Dartmouth also had three players in double figures, led by 13 each from senior center Chris Lapriore (Grafton, Mass.) and sophomore forward Paul Pawlowski (Taunton, Mass.). Lapriore hit six-of-nine from the floor and matched Lambert for game-high rebounding honors with eight, while Pawlowski added six caroms. Britto was the Corsairs' third double-figure scorer with 12 points, while added six boards as well.
Brandeis closes out its first semester schedule on Saturday at 7 p.m. when they travel to North Carolina to take on Division I Davidson College.