Men's hoops season ends in NCAA second round, 70-67, at RIC

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Taken from an RIC release) — The Brandeis University men's basketball team trailed by as many as 18 points in the second half, but had two chances to tie the game in the final five seconds fall short as the Judges dropped a 70-67 decision to host Rhode Island College in the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament tonight. With the loss, Brandeis ends its season with a 20-7 record, their best campaign in more than 30 years. RIC (26-3) advances to take on Keene State College in the Sweet 16 next weekend.

The Anchormen went on a roll midway through the second half to build an 18-point advantage on a sophomore forward Kaseem Johnson (New Haven, CT) putback with 10:04 remaining. The Judges, who came from behind to force overtime and eventually defeat Trinity (77-70) last night buckled down and limited Rhode Island College to just three points and no field goals for the remainder of the game. RIC struggled during that timespan, going 0-for-8 from the field and turning the ball over six times.

Brandeis cut the lead two points on a junior guard Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) free throw with 11 second remaining. The Judges fouled RIC senior guard Kamari Williams (Springfield, MA) who made the first free throw and missed the second. Brandeis junior guard Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, MA) grabbed the rebound with nine seconds remaining. Junior guard Joe Coppens (Rockland, MA) and junior forward Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, NH) missed three-point attempts at the buzzer, which allowed the Anchormen to escape with the win.

Brandeis was paced by 20 points from DeLuca, who hit just 5-of-16 from the field and 2-for-8 from 3-point range. He also scored 8-of-10 free throws. Rexhepi finished with 19 points on 8-of-14, with 16 of those points coming in the first half. Graves-Fulgham led the Judges with a game- and career-high 10 rebounds and four assists to go with seven points.

The Anchormen had four players score in double-figures, led by sophomore guard Bobby Bailey’s (Fall River, MA) team-high 14 points. Classmate Tirrell Hill (Bronx, NY) was one off the pace, while senior guard Kinsey Durgin (Greenwood, ME) and sophomore guard Cameron Stewart (Newport, RI) each had 10 points. Senior center John Weir (Danbury, MA) had six points and six rebounds.