January 12, 2008

No. 2 Brandeis men match 50's squads for best start with 66-56 win over NYU

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Brandeis University men's basketball team, ranked No. 2 in the nation, defeated host New York University today, 66-56, to open the University Athletic Association schedule for both teams. With the win, the Judges matched the 1956-57 and 1957-58 squads for the best 12-game start in school history at 11-1.

Brandeis (11-1, 1-0 UAA) trailed by as many as nine points early and were down, 25-20, with 7:18 left in the first half. The Judges outscored NYU (9-3, 0-1 UAA), 14-3, over the remainder of the first half, taking a 34-28 lead into the locker room thanks a late 3-pointer by senior guard Florian Rexhepi (Skopje, Macedonia). A balanced scoring attack in the first saw two players with six points, two with five and two with four. NYU's Richie Polan had 11, including three 3-pointers, to lead all scorers. The Violets had six trifectas in the first half, but just one hoop from inside the arc.

In the second stanza, Brandeis opened on a 9-4 run to take an 11-point lead on a traditional three-point play by senior guard Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.) with 17:10 remaining. NYU got within two points with just over five minutes left on the clock on another Polan long-range bomb, but Brandeis junior Kevin Olson (Rockport, Mass.) answered on the other end. The Violets hit one free throw on their next possession, but were never closer than that.

Brandeis, which shot a season-high 60 percent from the field (24-40), connect on eight-of-16 from beyond the arc. Coppens scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. For the game, he connected on five-of-nine overall, four-of-eight from 3-point range, and all three free-throws. He also corralled a team-high six rebounds and made four steals. Olson was the next-leading scorer for the Judges with nine points, while senior Kwame Graves-Fulgham (Amherst, Mass.) and rookie Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon) tied for team-high honors with three assists each.

NYU was paced by Polan, who finished with a game-high 22 points and tied Coppens with six rebounds. Charlie Parker had nine points, but shot just three-of-11, including 0-for-5 inside the arc. As a team, the Violets connected on just 38 percent from the field (17-44), despite going 10-21 from 3-point range (47.6%).