AMHERST, Mass. -- Graduate student Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H./Merrimack) led the Brandeis University men's basketball team past their third nationally-ranked opponent of the season tonight as the Judges defeated No. 9-ranked Amherst, 73-58, in Western Massachusetts. DeLuca had game-highs with 23 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the campaign. With the win, the Judges avenged their 2008 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight loss and improved to 9-5 on the season, while Amherst falls to 13-2.
With the game tied at 44-44 midway through the second half, Brandeis scored the next nine points. DeLuca opened the barrage with a lay-up, followed by two Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) free throws. Sophomore forward Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) followed with a fast-break lay-up and a traditional three-point play to extend Brandeis's lead to 53-44 with 6:16 left.
Lord Jeff senior forward Brian Baskauskas halted the run with a lay-up, but two free throws by Brandeis junior forward Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) pushed the lead back to nine. Amherst scored on their next two possessions, but both times, DeLuca answered from 3-point range to push the Brandeis lead to 61-50 with just over four minutes left in the game. The Judges' lead was never below 10 points the rest of the way. Brandeis outscored Amherst, 29-14, in the final ten minutes of the contest, holding the hosts to 4-of-16 shooting over that stretch while connecting on 6-of-10 of their own from the field and 15-of-17 from the line. DeLuca, who scored 14 of his 23 points in the final quarter of the contest, became the 10th Brandeis played to score 1,400 career points, surpassing Stanley House '89 for 10th on the Judges' career scoring list.
The Judges also put two other players in double figures. Junior guard Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) reached double figures for the fourth straight game with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field with a 3-pointer and 3-of-4 from the line. Nine of his points came in the first half. Senior Kevin Olson (Rockport, Mass./Rockport) added 11 points, hitting 3-of-5 3-pointers and both free throws. The Judges outrebounded Amherst, 33-27. They also outscored the Lord Jeffs, 15-6, in points off turnovers despite committing one more miscue, 11-10.
For Amherst, Baskauskas finished the night with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds, while Brian Wheeler added ten points. The Lord Jeffs join Rhode Island College (then 25th) and Carnegie Mellon (then 14th) as nationally-ranked teams to fall to the Judges this season.