Worcester, MA (courtesy WPI sports Information) --- For the second-straight game, the Brandeis University men's basketball team dropped a contest to a fellow 2008 NCAA tournament team, falling to host WPI, 78-64, on Saturday evening at Harrington Auditorium. The Judges got a game-high 18 points from preseason All-American Steve DeLuca (Merrimack, N.H.) and a career-best 11 from rookie Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass.), but it wasn't enough as the Engineers were led by Jerome Kirkland's (Boston, MA) 15 points and four steals.
Leading 34-28 at the break, the Engineers (4-0) came out of the locker room on fire in the second half. WPI took control of the game by scoring 21 of the first 31 points of the second stanza, keyed by consecutive three-pointers from Kirkland and sophomore forward Ben Etten (Hollis, NH). WPI shot a blistering 70% from the field in the second half, connecting on 14-of-20 field goal attempts.
Utilizing a deep rotation that saw 10 players logging 11 or more minutes, the Crimson and Gray hounded Brandeis into 23 turnovers. Etten added 14 points and six rebounds for WPI, while senior guard Adam Lirette (Dover, NH) chipped in with 12 points. Bennett Lessard (Belgrade, ME) provided a spark off the bench, corralling a game-best eight boards.
The Judges (0-2) were paced by DeLuca, who tossed in a game-best 18 points and six rebounds. Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, MA) and Kevin Olson (Rockport, MA) contributed 11 and 10 points respectively, while Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania) collected eight points off the bench.
The win pushes WPI to 4-0 on the year and is its second victory this week over a nationally-ranked team. Thursday night, the Engineers went on the road and defeated #16 ranked Rhode Island College before beating the ninth-ranked Judges.
Both teams are back in action on Tuesday. WPI plays the middle of five straight contests versus teams that appeared in the 2007-08 NCAA Division III Tournament, when they host Lasell College at 5:30pm. Brandeis takes on UMass Dartmouth in its home opener at 7:30pm.