WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis University men's basketball team, ranked No. 22 in the nation by D3hoops.com in the preseason, opened the season with a 90-79 victory over local rival Lasell College tonight in Red Auerbach Arena.
Brandeis (1-0) was paced by a pair of 20-point performances that led four players in double figures. Sophomore Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) led all players with a career-high 23 points off the bench. Kriskus connected on seven-of-16 overall, five-of-11 from 3-point range and all four of his free throws. Senior guard Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.) stuffed the stat sheet with 20 points, a career-high eight rebound and seven assists. He reached the 20-point plateau for the fourth time in his career on five-of-nine from the floor with one 3-pointer and nine-of-11 from the line, including six-of-seven in the second half.
Senior guard Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) added 17 points and four steals, while senior forward Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) recorded his ninth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, hitting eight of his nine shots from the floor. The Judges outrebounded Lasell, 37-22, and owned a 24-7 scoring edge from the free throw line, taking 18 more shots from the charity stripe and hitting 83 percent compared to 64 percent for the Lasers.
Lasell (0-1) did the Judges one better in terms of balance, putting five players in double figures, led by 18 from rookie guard Lance Theard (New Orleans, La./Warren Easton). Theard had 16 of his points in the second half, when he hit on six-of-11 from the field and three-of-four from downtown. Senior guard Charles Horton (Detroit, Mich./Burncoat) and sophomore forward Dominic Orlow (Slupsk, Poland/Henry P. Becton) had 16 each. Horton scored 15 of his points on five 3-pointers, while Orlow tallied 14 in the second half. Sophomore forward Javon Williams (Mattapan, Mass./Cathedral) added 13 points, while senior forward Sean Joynes (Philadelphia, Pa./Roman Catholic) chipped in with 10. Orlow and Theard tied for team-high honors with four rebounds, while junior guard Joey Vento (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) topped the Lasers with four assists and Williams had four steals.
Thanks to their press, Brandeis opened the game on an 11-3 run over the first 2:23, forcing Lasell into four early turnovers that resulted in seven points. The lead swelled to as many as 22 at 43-21 on a Kriskus trifecta with just under two minutes remaining. The Judges took a 45-25 lead into the locker room thanks to 21 points off 16 Lasell turnovers. Roberson (12 points), Kriskus (11 points) and Small (10 points) all reached double figures before the break.
The lead still stood at 20, 78-58, with 5:26 left, when the Lasell press started to force the Judges into mistakes, outscoring the Judges, 16-2, in second-half points off turnovers. Brandeis went more than three minutes without a field goal, while the Lasers got hot from the field. After a Theard long ball, They got within 11 at 78-67 with 3:34 to go, while a Williams foul shot got the visitors within 10 with just over two-and-a-half minutes left. Brandeis answered with a Hollins lay-up to push the lead back to 12, and though Lasell got within eight at 84-76 on a Horton bomb with 42 seconds left, it was too little, too late as the Judges hung on for the 11 point win.
Brandeis, which avenged a three-point loss to Lasell in last season's opener, will next take on Emerson College Saturday at 5 p.m. Lasell takes on Cortland State in the opening round of the Williams Tournament Saturday 6 p.m.