March 2, 2007

Brandeis men need overtime to gain first NCAA tournament win in 29 years, 77-70, over Trinity

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Brandeis University junior forward Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in overtime tonight as the Judges connected on 13-of-14 shots combined from the field and the line in the extra session to defeat Trinity College, 77-70, in their first NCAA tournament game in 29 years. With the win, the Judges not only clinched their fourth 20-win season in school history, but advance to the second round of the NCAAs to face regional host Rhode Island College, 64-60 winners over Coast Guard, Saturday at 7:00 p.m. in Providence.

Brandeis (20-6) DeLuca's 24 points came on 10-of-19 from the floor and two-of-four from 3-point range and from the line. Junior guard Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) finished with 17 points, hitting the game's biggest shot, an NBA-range 3-pointer with 26.1 seconds on the clock that tied the game at 56-56. Coppens also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds, just missing a double-double. Junior guard Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia) added 14 points, including the Judges' first seven of the game. Junior guard Kwame Graves-Fuglham (Amherst, Mass.) scored eight points and had a team-high five assists, tied for game-high honors.

Trinity (21-5) was paced by 20 points from senior guard Kino Clark (Lauderhill, Fla.), who hit eight-for-20 from the field and four-for-12 from 3-point range, while junior backcourt mate Patrick Martin (Springfield, Mass.) added 19 points on seven-of-16 from the field. Junior forward Robert Taylor (Dorchester Center, Mass.) added 10 points off the bench. Junior center Russ Martin (E. Longmeadow, Mass.) pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds, but the Judges held him to just nine points, seven below his season average.

In the first half, the game was tied at 7-7 before the Judges scored seven unanswered points to take a 14-7 lead on a Coppens trifecta. Trinity answered with a 9-1 run of their own, reclaiming the lead on a Taylor jumper with 7:48 on the clock. Neither team was able to pull away down the stretch of the first, with Brandeis taking a 24-23 lead into the locker room. Neither team shot above 33 percent in the first half,

After the intermission, a Rexhepi 3-pointer85 seconds in gave Brandeis a 31-27 lead. The Bantams answered as Clarke and Michael Hoar (Pembroke, Mass.) both connected from downtown to take a 33-31 lead. Trinity took a couple of four-point advantages over the middle portion of the half, but the Bantams were never able to pull away.

Brandeis trailed, 55-50, with 2:56 on the clock, but they got a defensive stop on a 3-point attempt, giving DeLuca a chance to put back his own shot with 1:37 left in regulation. After the Judges fouled, Hoar hit one-of-two free throws, with Brandeis junior Stephen Hill (Brighton, Mass.) grabbing the rebound and getting fouled from behind. Hill hit both free throws to cut the lead to three, setting up Coppens's heroics after the Judges got another defensive stop.

In overtime, DeLuca hit a lay-up and a 3-pointer to open the session, and the Judges never looked back, hitting five-of-six from the floor. Trinity hit four 3-pointers in the extra session, but Brandeis connected on eight-of-eight from the line to secure the victory.

See the webcast of the win here: http://media1.ezstream.com/ibnArchive/64555/