Senior day victory assures winning season for first time since 1994-95
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Five different Brandeis University players scored in double figures today as the host Judges defeated the visiting Case Western Reserve University Spartans, 94-78. With the win, Brandeis clinched its first winning season in 10 years.
Brandeis (14-10, 7-6 UAA) never trailed in the contest, as the Judges hit seven of their first nine shots, including all four 3-point attempts, to jump out to an 18-6 lead after just five minutes of play. Senior Omri Ayalon (Potsdam, N.Y.) led the charge, hitting three trifectas, while rookie Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) had one from deep. Brandeis pushed the lead to 13 on a couple of occasions, but Case would not go away. Trailing 32-19, the Spartans scored eight unanswered points, climbing to within 32-27 with 6:12 left on a lay-up from rookie guard Brandon Bradford (Detroit, Mich.). Brandeis responded with an 11-2 run over the next three minutes to go up by 14 and the Judges took a 49-38 lead into the locker room.
The teams traded buckets to open the second half, with Case Western Reserve (5-18, 1-11 UAA) hitting their first nine shots from the floor and 10 of their first 11. The Spartans got within four points, 64-60, on a dunk by rookie center Mason Conrad (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) with 11:08 remaining. Brandeis answered with 18 of the next 21 points, taking an 82-63 advantage on rookie Rocco Toppi's (Portland, Maine) trifecta with 5:08 left in the contest and the Judges cruised from there.
Brandeis, which last finished the season over .500 when they went 15-11 in 1994-95, was paced by senior Bryan Lambert's (Auburn, Maine) seventh double-double of the season. Lambert had 24 points and 10 rebounds in his final regular season home game. He hit 10-of-14 from the floor with a 3-pointer and three free throws. He also led all players with five steals and led the Judges with six assists. Lambert will enter the Judges' regular-season finale at NYU next weekend needing eight points to become just the seventh player in school history to reach the 1,500-point plateau. Ayalon finished with 17 points in his final home contest, 15 in the first half on five 3-pointers. Rookie guard Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) also had 17 points along with five boards and three assists. DeLuca finished with 16 points, 12 in the first half, while rookie guard Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) had 10 points on the day. The Judges forced 15 Spartan turnovers while committing just six of their own and outrebounded the visitors, 34-29, including 9-2 on the offensive boards.
Case had four starters score in double figures, paced by rookie guard Jeremy Sallee (Hamilton, Ohio) with 18 points on six-of-11 from the floor with two 3-pointers and four-for-four from the free throw line. Sallee also had game-high honors with eight assists. Conrad and junior Carson Oren (South Bend, Ill.) both scored 14 points, while sophomore guard Matt Cannan (Dublin, Ohio) had 11 points. Junior guard Funso Lafe (Chesterland, Ohio) had nine points and a team-best eight rebounds.