January 27, 2008

No. 2 men's hoops drops second-straight nailbiter, 71-69, to No. 4 WashU

WALTHAM, Mass. – Washington University senior forward Troy Ruths scored the game's final seven points as part of his 25-point, 12-rebound performance today as the visiting fourth-ranked Bears overcame a late deficit to defeat the second-ranked Brandeis University Judges, 71-69, in Red Auerbach Arena today in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest.

The game started as a very tight contest in the first half, as the teams traded the lead 14 times with three ties over the first 15 minutes. With the score tied at 25-25, WashU (14-2, 5-0 UAA) tallied eight unanswered points on a Ruths lay-up and back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Danny O'Boyle to take a 33-25 lead. Brandeis (12-4, 2-3 UAA) answered with trifectas from junior Kevin Olson to get back within 33-31 with 53 seconds left, but four Tyler Nading points offset two Brandeis free throws to give the visitors a 37-33 lead at the break.

Brandeis trailed by six points, 39-33, after Nading hit the first bucket of the second half. The Judges answered with a 16-3 run over the next seven minutes, reclaiming the lead on a lay-in by junior Terrell Hollins. The run was capped by a fast-break 3-pointer by senior Joe Coppens that put Brandeis ahead, 49-42. Ruths answered with a traditional three-point play to kick off an 8-2 Bear run, hitting a lay-up with 9:56 left to get the visitors back within one, 51-50.

After the lead expanded back to four, the next four minutes were played at the free-throw line. Two Hollins freebies tied the game at 57-57 with 5:37 left, but O'Boyle gave WashU the lead with a trifecta at the 5:16 mark. Olson answered with two free throws and a lay-up at the four minute mark to give Brandeis a 61-60 lead. Although that was the last field goal the Judges would hit, they connected on both shots in their next five trips to the line, while the Bears went just two-of-four from the stripe in that span. When senior Kwame Graves-Fulgham hit two with 1:39 on the clock, it gave Brandeis a 69-62 lead, but WashU held the Judges scoreless after that.

Nading got the stripe after Grave-Fulgham's foul shots as he was held trying to break free for a baseball pass on the inbounds play. He hit one-of-two from the line, but the ball went out on the Judges after the miss and Ruths scored on the inbound play. After a Brandeis turnover, WashU missed a shot from downtown, but Ruths got the offensive board and drew a foul, cutting the lead to 69-68 with 1:12 left.

Brandeis ran the shot clock down on the next possession, but Andre Roberson came up just short. With 20 seconds remaining, Ruths again scored and got to the line, giving the Bears the lead. Coppens had a shot at a 3-pointer with the clock running down, but Nading corralled the rebound as the clock expired.

Brandeis, which lost its third straight game and second in a row at home, was paced by 18 points from Graves-Fulgham, 11 coming in the first half. He hit 6-of-9 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers, and 4-of-4 from the line. Graves-Fulgham also led the Judges with four assists. Olson collected 12 points, six in each half, while Coppens finished with 11 and Hollins had 10. Rookie Christian Yemga led the Judges with a career-high six rebounds and two blocks.