February 2, 2007

Judges fall to No. 19 Chicago, 74-69

WALTHAM, Mass. – Four starters reached double figures tonight as the visiting University of Chicago Maroons, ranked 19th in the nation, held off a late rally to defeat the host Brandeis University Judges, 74-69, in University Athletic Association (UAA) play tonight in Red Auerbach Arena.

Chicago (16-3, 7-1 UAA) opened strong in the first five minutes of action, hitting six of their first 10 shots and forcing five Brandeis turnovers to claim a 14-2 lead on a hoop by senior Jason Vismantis (Highland, Park, Ill.). Brandeis (13-6, 3-5 UAA) got back into the contest midway through the first on back-to-back hoops by junior Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.), including a 3-pointer with 10:11 left that cut the lead to 18-15. The Maroons answered by scoring three points on six of their next eight possessions, getting the margin back to nine on a Brandon Woodhead (Lincoln, Neb.) trifecta with 5:38 left in the first. The Judges answered the 3-point barrage with four bombs of their own late to trail by six, 43-37, at the break. The teams combined to shoot 53 percent from the floor in the first, including 54 percent from beyond the arc (13-of-24), as UC was eight-of-16 and Brandeis five-of-eight. Woodhead led all scorers with 12 points in the first for Chicago, while Coppens had 10 for the Judges.

Chicago opened the second stanza on a 9-2 run over the first 4:44 to claim a their largest lead, 52-39, on a Matt Corning (Wauconda, Ill.) long bomb. The Maroons were still ahead by 10, 57-47, with 9:40 on the clock, when the Judge made their move to get back in the game. Rookie Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass.) made a traditional three-point play, followed by a trifecta from classmate Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn.) and a steal and a lay-up from Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass.) with 6:14 left that knotted the game at 57-57. Vismantas hit a jumper to give the Maroons a 59-57 lead, but junior Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) drained a 3 from the top of the key that put Brandeis ahead for the first time in the contest. Vismantis answered with a tying free throw the next time down and two more that put the Maroons up, 62-60. Brandeis's Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) tied it on a nice feed from Roberson, but UC junior Nate Hainje (Bronwsburg, Ind.) came down and converted a traditional three-point play for a lead the visitors wouldn't relinquish, as they hit six-of-eight from the line down the stretch to ice the contest.

DeLuca, who was recognized for his 1000th career point before the game, led all scorers with 19 points, hitting eight-of-13 from the floor with three-of-five from beyond the arc. Coppens finished with 15, hitting five-of-nine with three trifectas as well. Roberson, Small and Hollins all ended the night with nine points each. Roberson and Graves-Fulgham tied for team-high honors with four assists, while four Judges had four boards apiece. The loss was Brandeis's first in 12 home games this season and came in front of their largest crowd of the campaign.

Chicago was paced by Woodhead's 16 points on seven-of-15 from the floor. Vismantis finished with 13 points and a game-high seven rebounds, while Jesse Meyer (Omaha, Neb.) had 12 and Hainje had 11 points and game-best five assists. Five different Chicago players hit two 3-points on the night, though the Maroons hit just two-of-11 from downtown in the second half.