February 4, 2007

Men's hoops outlasts WashU, 81-75, in 3 OTs

WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) converted a traditional three-point play with 1:15 left in the third OT period en route to a career-high 24 points as the Brandeis men's basketball team upended visiting No. 7 Washington Univ, 81-75, in a UAA contest. The win snapped Brandeis's 29-game losing streak to the Bears that dated to 1991-92.

Brandeis (14-6, 4-5 UAA) put four players in double figures, paced by Coppens, whose 24 points came on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor with two 3-pointers and a perfect 8-for-8from the line. 20 of Coppens' 24 points came after the first half, with 8coming in the overtime sessions. Junior Steve DeLuca had 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Florian Rexhepi also had 13 points, 10 of which came in the second half. Rookie guard Andre Roberson scored 12 points off the bench for the Judges as the reserves outscored WashU, 19-9.

Washington (16-3, 7-2 UAA) suffered its second-straight conference loss after winning their first seven. Aaron Thompson led the way with 15 points, all coming from beyond the arc. He hit 5-of-15 from long range with 12 of his points coming in the second half. Sophomore Sean Wallis contributed 14 points and 7 assists before fouling out in the first OT, while classmate Tyler Nading added 14 before also picking up his fifth foul in the first extra session. Junior Troy Ruths and senior Nick Nikitas both recorded double-doubles. Ruths had 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, while Nikitas finished with 10 points and 10 boards.

In a game that featured 15 ties and 18 lead changes, WashU looked to be in control when Nading hit a pair of free throws with 4:31 left in regulation to give the Bears a 50-44 lead. Brandeis answered with a DeLuca 3-pointer on the next possession, while Roberson's traditional 3-point-play tied the game at 50-50 with 3:15 to go. The teams traded buckets the next three trips, but Coppens got to the line with 19 seconds remaining to put Brandeis ahead, 56-54. The Bears responded as Wallis banked in a jumper with 3.8 seconds, and a long 3-pointer by Kwame Graves-Fulgham was off the mark at the buzzer with the score 56-56.

In the first OT, Brandeis sophomore Kevin Olson opened the session with a hoop on a Dish from Graves-Fuglham, but senior Ray Wagner answered with a pair of free throws. The teams traded points and turnovers on the next two possessions, before Roberson hit a jumper with 28 seconds on the clock to put the Judges back up. WashU wasn't to be denied, as rookie Cameron Smith came off a screen with 2.8 seconds to send it to a second five-minute session knotted a 62-62.

In OT number two, WashU got on the board first at 64-62 on an up-and-under lay-up by Ruths, but Coppens got it back at the line. Smith hit one-of-two free-throws to give the Bears a 65-64 lead, but Coppens connected from downtown with 1:54 left to put the Judges up 67-65. Brandeis got a stop on the ensuing possession, but turned the ball back to the visitors, and Smith got to the line with 53 on the clock to tie it again.

After Ruths scored the first two buckets of the fifth session to give WashU a 71-67 lead with 3:31 on the clock, Brandeis roared back, scoring 13 of the game's next 15 points. Olson cut the deficit to one with a trifecta from the corner, while Roberson gave Brandeis the lead from beyond the arc on the opposite side of the court. Nikitas answered next time down, tying the game at 73-73 setting the stage for Coppens' heroics.