Weldon hits two key shots as Brandeis men rally past NYU, 69-62

Weldon hits two key shots as Brandeis men rally past NYU, 69-62

WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis University men's basketball team scored 14 unanswered points over a six-and-a-half minute span in the second half, turning an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead thanks to two John Weldon (Freehold, N.J./Freehold) 3-pointers as the Judges defeated New York University, 69-62, in the regular-season finale for both squads.

With the win, Brandeis solidifies its at-large qualifications for a fourth-straight NCAA tournament bid with a final record of 19-6, 9-5 in the University Athletic Association (UAA), finishing second in the league for the third-straight year. NYU wraps up its regular season at 16-9, 7-7 in the conference.

Trailing by five points at halftime, 31-26, Brandeis was behind, 43-35, 6:01 into the second half when Violet senior Keith Jensen (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) hit from beyond the arc. After missing their first six 3-pointers of the game, The Judges got the lead to one possession when senior Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) and junior Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) connected from beyond the arc to make the score, 43-41 with 9:39 left.

NYU called timeout after getting the ball over halfcourt, but Jensen was called for an offensive foul, and Kriskus connected on a nice move to the hoop to knot the game at 43-43. The Judges got another stop, setting up Weldon's heroics. The senior - who is expected to return next season with a medical-hardship season - connected from beyond the arc at the right elbow to put Brandeis ahead, 46-43, for the first time in nearly 20 minutes at the 8:33 mark. On their next possession, the Judges worked the clock and found a wide-open Weldon in the corner, where he buried another trifecta to give Brandeis a six-point lead.

NYU stopped the momentum briefly on a Richie Polan (Tarzana, Calif./Buckley School) put-back, but a Roberson jumper and two Krisku foul shots pushed the lead to eight points with 5:54 left. NYU was never able to get closer than two possessions the rest of the way.

In addition to Weldon's heroics, Brandeis had three players score in double figures. Senior Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) led all players with 18 points and nine rebounds, just missing his 13th double-double of the season. Hollins hit 6-of-8 from the field and all six of his free-throws. Roberson finished with 17 points, including nine in the second half, and a team-high three assists, while Kriskus scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half while also getting a team-best three steals. The Judges were able to bounce back by shooting 52% (12-23) from the floor in the second half after connecting on just 41% (11-27) in the first. Meanwhile, they were able to cool off an NYU squad that shot 57% (13-23) in the first by holding the Violets to 43% (12-28) in the second. The Judges also forced 17 turnovers while committing just 11, earning an 18-9 edge in points off turnovers.

NYU was paced by Polan, who had 17 points off the bench - including 11 in the second half - and matched Hollins for game-high with nine rebounds.  Sophomore Andy Stein (Bethlehem, Pa./Bethlehem Freedom) helped the Violets to their first-half lead, scoring all 14 of his points in the first 20 minutes, when he hit 6-of-7 with a 3-pointer and a foul shot. Senior Omar Meziab (Tucson, Ariz./Tucson) had seven assists, as the visitors had 20 helpers on their 25 baskets. Jensen finished with nine points, including the 1,000th of his career on a trifecta with 13:45 left in the contest, to become the 25th player in NYU history to reach the millennium plateau.

Brandeis will learn their post-season fate on Monday when the NCAA announces their bracket, while the Violets are expected to be selected to the ECAC Division III Metro Area tournament.