February 5, 2006

Men's hoops completes season sweep of Case, 74-70, in OT behind DeLuca's 35 points and 13 boards

CLEVELAND, Ohio (taken from a CWRU press release) -- Sophomore guard Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) scored a career-high for the third straight Sunday, tallying 35 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Brandeis University men's basketball team past host Case Western Reserve, 74-70, in overtime. Played in old Adelbert Gymnasium as part of Case’s Throwback Weekend, the Spartans wore brown replica uniforms of the old Case Institute of Technology Rough Riders. Case has now lost five in a row while falling to 10-10 on the year and 2-7 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). Brandeis meanwhile improved to 12-8 overall and 5-4 in the UAA.

Paced by 14 first half points from senior guard Funso Lafe, Case bolted out to a 10-point lead, 38-28, at halftime. Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) pushed Brandeis into the early lead with six points over the first six minutes of the game. The Spartans then took control with a 19-7 run over a span of nearly six minutes to lead 23-15 at the 9:49 mark. The Judges came within two points, but Case scored 10 of the last 14 points to take the lead at the midway point of the contest. DeLuca led the way for Brandeis with 14 points in the first 20 minutes. Case was 14-of-31 (45.2%) from the field in first half while the Judges shot 33.3% (11-33).

DeLuca led Brandeis back from as many as 13 points down to tie the game 65-65 and send the contest into overtime. Case shot just 22.6% (7-31) from the field in the second half, going without a bucket from the floor in the final 10 minutes of action. The Judges meanwhile hit 13-of-23 field goals.

The turning point in the game came at the 8:55 mark with Case holding a 51-42 advantage. Both Carson Oren (South Bend, IN) and Mason Conrad (Tarpon Springs, FL) received technical fouls for Case. DeLuca then proceeded to connect on 5-of-6 free throw attempts to draw the Judges within four points, 51-47.

Brandeis tied the game 63-63 with 49 seconds to play when Joe Coppens (Rockland, MA) split a pair of free throws. Lafe then connected on two free throws to give Case the two-point lead but Brandeis answered right back as Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, MA) hit a layup with 11 seconds left. An Oren three-point try at the buzzer rimmed out to bring the overtime period. The Judges scored the first six points in overtime which proved to be too much for the Spartans to overcome.

Matt Cannan (Dublin, OH) tallied 11 points and 12 rebounds while Oren added 11 points and nine rebounds for Case. Coppens finished with 17 points and DeLuca recorded a game-high 13 rebounds for the Judges.