January 20, 2008

No. 2 men's basketball rallies, falls short at No. 1 Rochester, 74-68

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- The Brandeis University men's basketball team, ranked No. 2 in the nation, got within two points in the last 1:06 of play after trailing by as many as 10 points, but the Judges were unable to complete the comeback, falling to the No. 1-ranked University of Rochester Yellowjackets, 74-68, in a University Athletic Association (UAA) matchup at the Palestra today. With the loss, Brandeis falls to 12-2 on the season, 2-1 in the UAA. Rochester moves to 14-0, 3-0 in the conference.

In the first half, Brandeis opened the game on a 12-5 run, taking a seven-point advantage on a jumper by senior Joe Coppens (Rockland, Mass.). After Rochester missed five of their first seven shots, the Yellowjackets caught fire, connecting on 13 of their last 15 to finish the stanza shooting 69 percent from the field. UR took the lead for good midway through the half on a hoop by junior guard Max Kaplan (Chicago, Ill.). The lead expanded to eight points, 40-32, at the break on a a jumper by senior Uche Ndubizu (W. Windsor, N.J.). The Judges were paced by junior Kevin Olson (Rockport, Mass.), who had a game-high 12 points at the break. UR senior Rob Dominiak (New York, N.Y.) had eight points for the hosts.

In the second half, the Judges opened the first 7:37 on a 16-9 run, climbing within 49-48 on a lay-up by sophomore guard Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass.). UR answered by scoring eight of the next nine points, and eventually went ahead by 10, 63-53, on a free throw by Ndubizu with 2:43 left in the contest.

Brandeis wouldn't go away, however, as the Judges went on a 10-2 run thanks to stout rebounding and UR turnovers. The run was capped by a trifecta by Coppens with just 1:05 left that got Brandeis within 65-63, but they could not complete the rally as the 'Jackets hit their final six free throws to ice the contest.

For the game, Olson led all scorers with 16 points, but just four after halftime. Roberson picked up his game after the break, scoring 12 of his 14 points in the second. Coppens had 10 points to make three Judges in double figures. Senior Stephen Hill (Brighton, Mass.) led the Judges with six rebounds and no Brandeis player had more than two assists. The Judges shot 50 percent from the field (24-48), but were just 4-12 from 3-point range. Top scorer Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass.) was held to just one field goal in the contest, scoring just three points.

Rochester was paced by 14 points from senior Mike Chmielowiec (Batavia, N.Y.), nine coming in the second half. Dominiak had 12 points, hitting seven-of-seven from the line, while senior Jeff Juron (Niskayuna, N.Y.) had 10 points and a game-high nine assists, as many as Brandeis had as a team. Ndubizu and senior Jon Onyiriuka (Painted Post, N.Y.) each had nine points. Ndubizu led all players with eight rebounds and also had five assists on the day. The Yellowjackets shot 60 percent from the field (24-40), the best performance by a Brandeis opponent this season, as was their 7-for-11 from 3-point range (63.6%).

Brandeis's two losses this season have come to the last two undefeated teams in Division III play, Rochester and No. 14-ranked UMass-Dartmouth. Brandeis and Rochester will meet again in Waltham on February 15th.

Today's game was the just the second meeting between the top two teams in the nation in the d3hoops.com poll in the history of the poll. The only previous meeting came on Feb. 4, 2006, when No. 2 Wooster defeated No. 1 Wittenberg, 86-77.