CLEVELAND, Ohio -- After putting up their lowest-scoring half of the season, the Brandeis University men's basketball team overcame a 31-20 halftime deficit by scoring a season-high 53 in the second to defeat host Case Western Reserve, 73-66. The Judges also took a season-high 39 free throws, connecting on 32 of them. With the win, Brandeis improves to 10-5 overall, 3-1 in the University Athletic Association. Case falls to 5-10, 2-2 UAA.
Brandeis put three players in double figures, offsetting a 33-point performance by Case sophomore Kevin Herring. Grad student Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H./Merrimack) recorded his second-straight double double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. It was his third double-double of the campaign and the 11th of his career. DeLuca hit just 4-of-10 from the field, but added 8-of-9 from the free-throw line.
Junior guard Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) led the squad with 17 points, thanks to 4-of-8 shooting from the field and a 9-of-11 performance from the line. Junior guard Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) added 13 points off the bench, all coming in the second half. Small was 3-for-7 overall from the field, 2-of-3 from 3-point range, and 5-of-6 from the charity stripe. Roberson also had three assists and tied with DeLuca with two steals.
Herring led Case, scoring the Spartans' first 13 points of the game and matching the visitors with 20 first-half points. Herring was 8-of-11 in the first half, going 3-of-6 from downtown and 1-of-2 from the line, but in the second half, was just 2-of-6 from the field - with two trifectas - going 7-of-7 at the line. No other Spartan player had more than eight points, and their leading rebounder, senior center Rob Skuski, had just five boards.
After Brandeis took an early 5-3 lead, a Herring trifecta with just under five minutes elapsed gave the hosts their first advantage at 8-5. DeLuca answered with a lay-up at the 14:28 mark, but the Judges would hit just one more field goal over the next 10:15 as the Spartans opened up a 16-point bulge. A Herring lay-in with 4:27 left in the half gave Case a 28-12 lead. Brandeis scored the next five points on a Napoleon Lherisson (Boston, Mass./Thayer Acad.) free throw and a bucket and two from the line by sophomore forward Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) and were able to stay close at the line, trailing 31-20 at the break. The Judges shot a meager 18.2 percent in the first (4-22), but 11-for-13 free throw shooting (84.6%) kept them alive as the Spartans were connecting on 47.8 percent from the field (11-23).
Brandeis opened the second half by connecting on four of their first six shots, pulling within one, 33-32, on Small's first trifecta of the game with 5:11 gone. Herring answered with a deep ball of his own, while a Skuski tip-in pushed the edge back to six points for the Spartans. After Small hit 1-of-2 from the line, Skuski connected again, putting the hosts ahead, 40-33, with 13:10 left in the game.
The Judges answered with eight straight points, as Small gave the Judges their first lead since early in the contest, 41-40, with four straight free throws. From there, the game featured six ties and 10 lead changes. Case's biggest lead came on back-to-back buckets by Skuski that gave them a 57-54 lead with 5:07 remaining. Brandeis answered with a lay-up by junior forward Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) and a fast-break bucket by Roberson that led to a traditional three-point play. The free throw put the Judges ahead, 59-57, and they would never trail again, though the Spartans would tie the contest three more times.
The final deadlock came at 64-64 after a Bryan Erce driving lay-up for the Spartans. Roberson answered with a line-drive jumper and two free throws to push the lead to 68-64. The Judges connected on their last seven foul shots to salt away the contest.
Brandeis is next in action on Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. in a UAA showdown at Emory University.