Men's hoops run comes to a halt at Williams, 71-57

Men's hoops run comes to a halt at Williams, 71-57

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Brandeis men's basketball team's fantastic postseason run came to an end tonight, as the Judges could not contain second-ranked Williams down the stretch. Brandeis fell to the Ephs, 71-57, to come one step short of the Final Four. Senior Andre Roberson (Springfield, Mass./Wilbraham & Monson) led Brandeis with 14 points, classmate Kenny Small (Stratford, Conn./Stratford) had 11 and the team's third starting senior Terrell Hollins (Springfield, Mass./Longmeadow) grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds in the defeat. Along with Richard Magee (Burke, Va./Lake Braddock), the Class of 2010 graduates as the school's winningest seniors with 83 victories, four NCAA appearances and two berths in the Elite Eight.

The Judges started the game on fire, hitting their first four shots, eight of their first 12 and nine of their first 14, taking a nine-point lead, 21-12, on a Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) jumper at the 11:11 mark. Sophomore Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) had six points in the run by slashing to the basket, while Small had five and Roberson four.

Still down eight, 22-14, Williams clawed its way back into the game, on the back of senior Blake Schultz and some tough defense. The Jostens Award winner scored seven unanswered points, including five on one possession when he hit two free throws following a Brandeis technical foul and then canned a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired that got the Ephs within one, 22-21, with 7:53 left. By holding Brandeis nearly seven minutes without a field goal, two Nate Robertson foul shots gave the hosts their first lead, 26-25, with 4:41 left. Williams sophomore guard James Wang followed with a fade away jumper that pushed the lead to three, and he canned a 3-pointer with eight seconds left that put them ahead, 35-30, but Hollins drove the length of the floor to his first bucket of the game as the buzzer expired to cut the lead to 35-32 at the break. Schultz led all players with 12 points on a perfect shooting half, hitting 4-of-4 overall, both 3-pointers and both free throws. Wang added 10 for the Ephs,  while Hughes led the Judges with eight points. Hollins grabbed seven rebounds to lead all players. After their quick start, Brandeis shot just 46.4 percent for the half (13-of-28), but they stayed in the game by holding the national leaders in field-goal percentage (52 percent) to just 11-of-25 (44 percent).

The second half was a pulsating affair that featured five ties and four lead changes. Roberson opened the stanza with a trifecta to knot the game at 35-all. Neither team was able to claim more than a one-possession lead over the first 10 minutes of the half. Roberson’s traditional three-point play gave Brandeis a 44-41 lead with 13:33 left, but Schultz answered with a long bomb for the game’s sixth tie. Wang hit a driving lay-up at the 11-minute mark, but Small answered with a trifecta from the corner that gave the Judges a 47-46 edge with 10:37 on the clock.

Williams responded with seven-straight points as big man Troy Whittington tallied five points, including a nice tip-in off a Wang miss. Two Schultz foul shots pushed the lead to six, 53-47, the Ephs largest of the game to that point. Brandeis bounced back, though, with a Kriskus trifecta, and after Hollins drew a charge on the defensive end, he crashed the boards on offense to put back a Roberson miss and get the Judges within one, 53-52, with 5:30 left. Wang answered with a jumper just before a media timeout, but Kriskus responded in kind after the break, closing within 55-54 with 3:47 remaining. That was as close as the Judges’ fatigue began to catch up with them, as they scored just three points the rest of the way. Wang converted a traditional three-point play on the next possession and the Ephs were able to pull away by holding the Judges to 0-for-8 shooting down the stretch and connecting on 9-of-10 from the line for the 14-point final margin.

Schultz led all scorers with 29 points, while Wang added 18 and Whittington had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Ephs outrebounded Brandeis, 39-27, including 23-13 in the second half.