MEDFORD, Mass. (courtesy Tufts University sports information) -- Tournament Most Valuable Player Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) scored 22 points to lead the visiting Brandeis University Judges to a 54-41 victory over Tufts University in the championship game of the inaugural "New England Big 4 Challenge" on Sunday afternoon at Cousens Gymnasium.
Despite poor shooting on both sides, the game was set up for an exciting conclusion tied at 37-37 heading into the final nine minutes. However, the Judges took the drama out of it with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes to lead 48-37 with 5:16 remaining in the second half. Small had six points during the stretch and All-Tournament selection Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) added three. Brandeis led by no less than eight points the rest of the way.
Ranked 23rd in this week's D3Hoops.com national poll, the Judges improved to 7-1 overall with their fifth straight victory. Small was the only Judge to score in double-figures, but Hollins finished with 10 rebounds along with six points and three assists. Sophomore Tyrone Hughes (Dorcester, Mass./Taft School) added eight points, seven rebounds, and three steals to the tournament championship win.
Tufts (2-5), which lost for the first time in three games, was led by 10 points from freshman Scott Anderson (Sudbury, MA). All-Tournament pick Dave Beyel (Ocean City, NJ) had eight points, five rebounds, and two steals, while senior tri-captain Jon Pierce (Belmont, MA) finished with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds and also earned All-Tournament accolades.
The Judges had scored the first seven points of the game and led 16-8 halfway through the first half following a Small three-pointer. Over the next seven-plus minutes, the Jumbos worked the margin down to a 23-23 tie after a pair of Pierce free throws with 2:53 to go until halftime. Five Jumbos scored during the 15-7 turn-around. However, Small scored the final six points of the half and Brandeis led 29-23. Small had 14 at the break.
Tufts surged to its first lead of the game five minutes into the second half, using a 12-4 run to go ahead 35-33 on a lay-up by Beyel. Senior Dan Cook (Dover, MA) netted two three-pointers to help the cause. Both teams went cold and only two points were scored over the next five minutes. A jumper by Brandeis junior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) put Brandeis up 37-35, and then Anderson hit two free throws to tie it prior to the Judges' decisive run.
Brandeis finished at 40 percent on the dot shooting (18-of-45) and made only three of 11 three-point attempts (27.3 percent). Tufts was worse, shooting just 14-for-45 from the floor (31.1 percent), including three for 16 from beyond the arch (18.8 percent).
The Judges are next in action with an intersession game at Curry College on Jan. 4.