January 31, 2006

Brandeis men fall to No. 10 Amherst, 82-69

WALTHAM, Mass. – The visiting Amherst College men's basketball team (17-2) ended the game on a 23-9 run after the host Brandeis University Judges (10-8) took their only lead of the second half as the Lord Jeffs won a non-conference decision, 82-69, in Auerbach Arena tonight.

The first half was a see-saw affair, reminiscent of last season's contest in Amherst. The Lord Jeffs hit their first five baskets and eight of the first nine to claim a 24-15 lead midway through the first half. Brandeis then scored eight unanswered points, as sophomore Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) hit a trifecta and three free throws after getting fouled beyond the arc. After Amherst went back ahead by five, 32-27, on Tim McLaughlin's (Chatham, N.J.) 3-pointers, the Judges went on an 8-2 run, claiming their first lead on Steve DeLuca's (Merrimack, N.H.) long-range bomb at the 4:44 mark. The contest featured three ties and seven lead changes in the final stretch with Amherst taking a 47-44 lead into the locker room. The visitors shot lights-out in the first, hitting 17-of-30 (57 percent), including six-of-13 from downtown. Senior John Bedford (Ridgewood, N.J.) led Amherst with 12 points at the break, while sophomore Andrew Olson (San Diego, Cal.) had 11, offsetting DeLuca's 15 and 13 by Coppens for Brandeis.

In the second half, Brandeis tied the game at 50-50 on a Coppens lay-in less than three minutes in. Amherst responded with a 9-3 run over the next four minutes to take a 59-53 lead on McLaughlin's lay-up at the 13:06 mark. Brandeis answered on a traditional three-point play and a drive to the hoop by sophomore guard Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.), eventually taking a 60-59 lead at the 9:41 mark on a jumper by classmate Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia). Amherst answered, however, scoring 12 of the game's next 14 points. The Lord Jeffs held Brandeis to just three-of-13 shooting from the floor the rest of the way, ending the game with their biggest lead. They outrebounded Brandeis in the second half, 23-12, to keep the Judges from mounting a comeback.

Amherst put four players in double figures as Bedford finished with 22 points by hitting seven-of-12 from the floor, including four-of-seven from beyond the arc, and four-of-six from the line. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds and dished six assists to lead all players. Olson finished with a career-high 21 points, hitting eight-of-12 from the floor with a trifecta and all four free throws. He also had five helpers. Junior Dan Wheeler (Bloomington, Minn.) had 14 points and five boards, while McLaughlin finished with 12 points off the bench.

Brandeis was paced by DeLuca, who scored 25 points to lead all scorers. He hit nine-of-17 from the floor with a 3-pointer and six-of-seven from the line. He exceeded 20 points for the fourth game in a row, getting to the 25-point plateau or more for the third time in that span. Coppens finished with 19 points on six-of-12 from the floor, two-of-five from down town and five-of-five from the line. He pulled down a team-high eight rebounds to match a career-best. Rexhepi finished the game with 10 points to round out the double-figure scorers for the Judges. Brandeis had a season-low eight assists and got just seven points off the bench.