Torrid second half leads Framingham State past Brandeis, 70-61

WALTHAM, Mass. - The visiting Framingham State College men's basketball team connected on 13-of-21 shots in the second half, including 6-of-7 from downtown, to overcome a five-point halftime deficit and defeat host Brandeis, 70-61. With the win, the Rams improve to 7-5 on the season, while the Judges fall to 5-4.

The game was a tale of two halves, as the Judges were the team on fire in the first. Brandeis connected on 10 of its first 14 shots over the opening 9:24, using an 11-2 run at one point to race out to a 22-10 lead. Grad student Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H/Merrimack) had seven points in the stretch and sophomore forward Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) added six.

Trailing 24-12 with just under eight minutes left, the Rams responded with a nine unanswered points, seven from junior Josue Almodovar (Holyoke, Mass./Holyoke). His put back of his own miss trimmed the deficit to 24-21 with 5:14 left.

Brandeis was able to push the lead back to 13 points thanks to a six-point possession. Following a pair of bench technicals on FSC, Judge senior guard Kevin Olson (Rockland, Mass.) connected on three of four foul shots and then assisted a DeLuca 3-pointer that gave the hosts a 34-21 lead with 2:56 left in the half.

The technicals also proved to be the turning point in the game. Framingham State scored the final eight points before the intermission, including trifectas by junior Darius Yarell (Brockton, Mass./Brockton) and a buzzer-beater by classmate Bill Carey (Abington, Mass.) that made the score 34-29 in favor of the Judges. DeLuca led all scorers with 10 points at the break, while Almodovar had nine points and a game-high six boards for the visitors. Brandeis connected on 52 percent overall (13-25) and 60 percent from deep (3-5) in the first half while FSC hit just 38.7 percent (12-31) and 37.5 percent from downtown (3-8).

FSC scored 10 of the first 14 points of the second half, with a pair of Yarell deep balls in the stretch, the last giving the Rams their first lead, 39-38, with 16:42 left. Brandeis answered on a jumper by DeLuca, who grabbed an offensive rebound and assisted junior Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) to put the Judges in front, 42-39, less than a minute later. The Rams responded with 12 straight points of their own, with back-to-back trifectas from Carey and Almodovar putting the visitors ahead, 51-24, with 11:16 left, their biggest lead of the game.

Brandeis rallied again, with junior Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) connecting from deep to get the Judges within six. The Judges got several stops and got back within one, 53-52, after a DeLuca lay-up and two Small foul shots with 7:16 left. Roberson got a steal on the next possession, but the Judges missed a 3-pointer that would have given them the lead back. The Rams answered with a traditional three-point play by Carey on the next possession, who also scored his team's next six points with a pair of long 3-pointers that pushed the lead back to 64-56 with 5:50 remaining. The Judges were able to get within four with 1:08 left, and had had other chances to get even closer, but could not get their shots to fall as the Rams held them off for the nine-point win.

For Brandeis, DeLuca led all scorers with 21 points, 14 in the second half, as he connected on 9-of-17 from the field and 3-of-5 from 3-point range. He also grabbed seven rebounds. Yemga had 10 points, but just three after halftime. Hollins just missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds (seven offensive). Roberson finished with six points, four assists and a game- and career-high four steals. The Judges hit just 30.3 percent in the second half (10-33), including 16.7 percent from downtown (2-12).

FSC put four starters in double figures, paced by Almodovar's double-double performance of 17 points and 11  rebounds. He also had a game-high six assists and swiped three steals. Yarrell and Carey both scored 15 points each, with 12 of Carey's 15 coming in the second half. The combined to shoot 11-of-17 from the field and 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, as Carey had four trifectas and Yarrell three. Junior Roderick Jackson (Cambridge, Mass./Rindge & Latin) added 14 points and two blocked shots. The Rams shot 48.1 percent for the game (25-52) and 60 percent from deep (9-15) thanks to their hot second half. They also converted 15 Brandeis turnovers into 22 points, offsetting the Judges' 30-24 edge in points in the paint.

Both teams are now off for the semester. Brandeis will next take on Curry College at home on Jan. 5 at 7:00 p.m., while Framingham State faces Wheelock College on Jan. 7 at 6:00 p.m.

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