WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior forward Steve DeLuca (Merrimack,
N.H.) scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half to
rally the Brandeis University men's basketball team from an
eight-point deficit as the Judges defeated No. 24-ranked New York
University, 52-48, in University Athletic Association (UAA) action
Brandeis (11-3, 1-2 UAA) shot just 24 percent (5-21) from the floor in the first half and trailed by a 24-16 margin at the break. Still trailing by eight at 30-22 with 16:14 left, the Judges went on a 17-3 run over the next six minutes to take a five-point lead. A put-back by rookie Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass.) at the 13:52 mark gave Brandeis its first lead since 13-12 late in the first half.
NYU (11-2, 1-2 UAA) didn’t fold despite trailing by seven with 8:29 left. The Violets responded with eight unanswered points of their own, reclaiming the lead on an offensive rebound rookie guard Zach Kuba (Pittsburgh, Pa.), 43-42. DeLuca answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc on the next possession, but lay-ups by seniors Daniel Falcon (River Vale, N.J.) and Michael DeCorso (Freehold, N.J.) gave NYU a 47-45 lead with 3:11 remaining.
Hollins hit a lay-up off a drive and dish from junior Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) to tie the contest, and DeLuca's fourth trifecta of the game with 1:28 left gave the Judges the lead for good, 50-47. After NYU hit one-of-two free throws on their next possession, they forced Brandeis to run the shot clock down to two before DeLuca got off a desperation 3-pointer, but junior Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) tracked down the offensive rebound to help ice the contest.
DeLuca scored his season-high 26 points on 10-of-21 shooting from the floor. He also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds. Graves-Fulgham and junior Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) tied for team-high honors with three assists, while Rexhepi had a game-high three steals. After their first-half shooting woes, the Judges rebounded to hit 46 percent in the second half (13-28). They also committed a season-low seven turnovers, none in the second half, while forcing the Violets into 19 giveaways.
NYU was paced by 14 points from Falcon, but only four came after the intermission. He hit five-of-10 from the floor and four-of-six from the line. DeCorso also reached double figures with 10 points, but he needed four-of-12 shooting to get there. Although Violet senior forward Jason Boone (Sugar Loaf, N.Y.) led all players with four assists and had six rebounds to pace his team, he scored a season-low three points, taking just one shot. NYU outrebounded the Judges, 35-25 and shot 43 percent for the game (16-37).