WALTHAM, Mass. – Lasell College junior guard Maxwell Perez
(Holyoke, Mass.) scored a game-high 21 points, including the
decisive last four points of the game from the free throw line to
lead the Lasers past the host Judges, 67-64, in the Brandeis
University Tip-Off Tournament. Newbury College defeated Roger
Williams University, 71-51, in the consolation game.
In a contest that featured seven ties and nine lead changes, Brandeis (1-1) took a 31-29 lead into the intermission. With the contest tied at 37-37 after the teams traded buckets early in the second half, the Judges scored 10 unanswered points, including six points from sophomore guard Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) on lay-ups.
After taking a 47-37 lead with 12:57 on the clock, the Judges went cold and Lasell (2-0) started to heat up. The Lasers went on a 22-4 run over the next eight minutes, taking a 59-51 lead. Senior forward Michael Unwin (Plantsville, Conn.) was key in the stretch, scoring nine straight points for the Lasers at one point.
The Judges did not go away, however. A Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) free throw, a traditional three-point play by Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) and a Coppens steal and lay-up by Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) got Brandeis within two, 59-57, with 2:24 left. Unwin answered from the line, while DeLuca got the deficit back to two on a lay-up. Jaime Crawford (Coral Springs, Fla.) scored a back-door lay-up to give Lasell a 63-59 lead, but Brandeis's Rocco Toppi (Portland, Maine) responded with his only hoop of the night. The Judges forced a turnover on the ensuing in-bounds play and used some clock DeLuca nailed Brandeis's second 3-pointer of the game with 17.l ticks of the clock left in regulation, giving the hosts a 64-63 lead their first since the 9:56 mark. Perez's heroics were set up on a foul as he tried to penetrate with nine seconds left, scoring the eventual game-winners from the stripe. The Judges were unable to execute on the ensuing in-bounds play, and Perez iced the contest from the line.
Perez scored a game-high 21 points on seven-of-11 shooting from the floor, including a pair of trifectas, and five-of-six from the line. Along with his 23 points in the opening round, Perez earned tournament MVP honors. Crawford and Unwin were the only other Lasell players in double figures, scoring 11 and 10, respectively. The Lasers shot 54 percent from the floor in the second half (14-26) and were 11-of-13 from the line for the game, compared to the Judges' eight-of-14 performance.
Four Brandeis players scored in double figures, paced by 18 from DeLuca, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds (seven offensive) for his first double-double of the season. Rexhepi had 17 points and three assists, while Graves-Fulgham had 11 points, seven boards and five assists. Coppens tallied 10 points off the bench.
In addition MVP Perez, the All-Tournament team consisted of Michael Unwin from Lasell, Steve DeLuca and Florian Rexhepi from Brandeis, Arch Mitchell from Newbury and Dan Gumb from Roger Williams.