March 14, 2008

Roberson explodes in first half, Judges move to Elite Eight with 74-63 win over Plattsburgh State

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. -- Brandeis University sophomore guard Andre Roberson scored 18 of his team-high 20 points in the first half, including 11 in a key run over the last six minutes, as the Judges snapped the home-standing Plattsburgh State Cardinals' 20-game winning streak with a 74-63 victory in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament. The Judges advance to take on Amherst, who defeated Richard Stockton, 85-77, for the right to go to the Final Four.

Plattsburgh (27-3) led by as many as five points in the first half, the latest point coming on a pair of Antwane Miller free throws at the 6:55 mark to put the Cardinals ahead, 26-21. Roberson answered to cut the lead to 26-23 and then drew a key offensive foul on Plattsburgh senior leader Anthony Williams, his third of the first half. After Williams was removed from the game, the Judges went on a 16-4 run over the rest of the half. Roberson tied the game with a trifecta on the next possession. After another Miller free throw, sophomore Kenny Small gave the Judges a 28-27 lead with a lay-up on a Roberson assist. Plattsburgh's Travis Gorham tied the game with a foul shot, but Roberson converted a traditional three-point play, followed by a Joe Coppens 3-pointer to put the Judges up by six, 34-28. Two more Cardinal turnovers without their leader on the floor led to a Roberson long-range bomb and a Coppens lay-up before Plattsburgh's Khylan Hunt hit two more free throws to make the halftime deficit 39-30. Roberson led all players with 18 points at the break on 6-of-11 shooting, while Williams had 11 points and four assists for the Cardinals, as he was involved in nine of their 11 buckets. Brandeis connected on 6-of-9 from downtown, as Coppens and Roberson were both 3-of-4 from deep.

In the second, Plattsburgh opened with intense pressure, keeping the Judges off the board for the first 3:40, but they were unable to convert. The hosts missed two free throws and a couple of lay-ups, hitting two from the line before Brandeis's Kevin Olson connected from deep to give Brandeis their first double-digit lead, 42-32, with 16:20 left. The margin bounced between six and 10 for much of the next eight minutes, with a Stephen Hill lay-up giving the Judges a 54-46 lead with 8:20 left.

At that point, Plattsburgh State went on an 8-2 run with four different players contributing, that tied it, 56-56, with 4:46 left. The Judges answered as Olson connected from deep in the corner and the grabbed a key defensive rebound. A Hill jumper pushed the lead back to 5, and after Williams made a back-door lay-up, Coppens was on the spot as Kwame Graves-Fulgham found him in the corner after a loose ball, and Coppens nailed another trifecta to make the lead 66-58 with 1:36 left. Williams came down and hit the Cardinals' first 3-pointer to answer with 1:30 left, but Terrell Hollins' put-back of an Olson missed 3-ball with 0:58 left put the game away at 68-61.

For the game, Brandeis put four players in double figures, led by Roberson's third 20-point game of the season. Coppens finished with 16 points and four assists, while Hollins had 14 and a team-high nine rebounds. Hill finished with 10 points on 5-of-6 from the field. Graves-Fulgham had a team-high five assists.

Williams led all players with 28 points, 17 coming in the second half. He hit 12-of-24 from the floor with a 3-pointer and three free throws. Gorham recorded a double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.