CLEVELAND, Ohio - The 19th-ranked Brandeis University men's basketball team fought back from a 12-point second-half deficit to pull within one point, but the Judges' last-ditch efforts fell short as they suffered a 63-61 University Athletic Association (UAA) defeat at the hands of host Case Western Reserve University. With the loss, Brandeis falls to 14-4, 5-3 in the UAA, while the Spartans snap a 12-game losing streak against the Judges and improve to 10-9 overall, 2-6 in the association.
Brandeis faced its biggest deficit of the game, 12 points at 48-36, eight minutes into the second half after Spartan junior center Eric Duerr (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) opened by scoring his team's first 13 points of the stanza. The Judges, still down by 10, 52-42, with 9:34 left in the contest, began their climb back into the game on a 3-pointer by sophomore guard Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School). A trifecta by classmate Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness) got the Judges within six with just under seven minutes remaining, and a Hughes free throw cut the deficit to five, 54-49. Case rookie Evan Tsudis (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) stopped the Brandeis momentum with a pair of free throws, but Brandeis senior Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) answered with a pull-up jumper.
The Spartans missed their next four shots. On the Judges' next possession, Brandeis missed their first two attempts, but Kriskus got a put-back to get within 56-53. Case senior Bryan Erce (Berwyn, Ill./Morton West) hit one-of-two from the line to push the advantage back to four, but Hughes' trifecta from the left elbow got Brandeis back to within a single point. Erce and Roberson traded foul shots on the next two possessions, but the Spartan player missed the first of two with 1:05 remaining to make the score 60-58 with 1:05 on the clock.
Brandeis missed a 3-pointer on their next attempt, but senior Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) was able to tie up the ensuing rebound with 37 seconds left. Roberson was fouled on a drive to the net, sending him to the line with a chance to tie the game. He hit the first free throw, but missed the second. Hollins was on the spot once again, grabbing the offensive board. He found classmate Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) open from 12 feet, but Small's jumper was hard off the back iron. Case got the ensuing rebound and was able to go the other way quickly to reestablish a three-point lead, 62-59.
Back the other way with 4.9 seconds left, the Spartans elected to foul Hughes before he took a shot. He nearly made them pay with a quick release, but the foul was called on the floor. After hitting both freebies, Brandeis fouled Erce with 3.9 on the clock. He missed the first and hit the second, giving the Judges hope for a buzzer-beater. Roberson raced the ball up the floor, but his desperation shot from 25 feet went wide, giving the hosts the upset.
Brandeis was led by Hollins, who recorded his fifth-straight double-double with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Roberson also finished with 13 points and contributed a game-high six assists, while Hughes had 12 points, connecting on all three 3-pointers he tried and going 3-for-4 from the line. The Judges lost for just the second time in 13 games when holding their opponents under 70 points as they were unable to overcome a 44-31 rebounding disadvantage despite a 15-9 edge in points off turnovers.
Case's Erce was the game-high scorer with 17 points, while leading his team with five assists. Duerr finished with 13 points, all in the key stretch early in the second half. He also had six rebounds and four blocked shots. Tom Summers led the hosts with seven rebounds.