Hughes heroics lead No. 19 Brandeis men past Clark, 67-65, in OT

WALTHAM, Mass. – Junior guard Tyrone Hughes (Roslindale, Mass./Taft School) drove the length of the floor with 5.9 seconds and hit a running lay-up as time expired, using all of the backboard, to lift the 19th-ranked Brandeis University men's basketball team past visiting Clark, 67-65, in Red Auerbach Arena tonight.

Brandeis (5-0) never led in regulation, trailing by as many as 21 points in the first half (29-8 with 6:45 left) and by 11 with 7:22 left in the second. Clark (2-4) was still ahead by four points at 56-52 with 45 seconds left when rookie guard Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May School) connected from the corner to get Brandeis within one with 32.4 on the clock. The Judges trapped the ensuing inbounds play twice, with rookie Ruben Kanya (Ottawa, Ont./Bridgeton Acad.) intercepting Clark's second attempt and drawing a foul. Kanya hit the second of two free throws to tie the game at 56-56, and the Judges' pressure forced a steal with 14 seconds to go, but senior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) could not get a fade-away jumper to fall to avoid overtime.

The Judges finally broke on top in the extra session, as Retos connected again from the corner on a Hughes assist. Brandeis got a stop on the next possession, but were unable to convert on the other end. On Clark's next possession, after Brandeis rookie forward Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews School) blocked a shot by the Cougars' leading scorer Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass./Tantasqua Reg.), who committed a foul on the ensuing rebound. Unfortunately for Clark, not only was it Vayda's fifth of the game, Cougar head coach Paul Phillips was whistled for a technical foul on the play. Retos converted both technical free throws and junior Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) made one-of-two, putting the Judges ahead by six, 62-56.

The Cougars weren't finished, as sophomore Travis Curley (Trumbull, Conn./Proctor Acad.) answered from deep at the top of the key to get the visitors back within one possession. Kriskus responded with his only trifecta of the night, making it 65-59 with 2:38 left in the extra session. CU junior Mitch Renshaw (Rutland, Mass./Wachusett Reg.) responded with a jumper, and the Cougars got a stop on the next possession, as Hughes's shot and follow as the shot clock expired were off the mark.

Fine offensive rebounding got Clark back within one, as junior Tom Desautels (Manchester, Conn./East Catholic) rebounded a missed 3-pointer and was fouled. He hit the first of two foul shots, but junior Jonathan Phillips (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) got to the glass first and Desautels connected again from mid-range to get the visitors back within 65-64 with just over a minute left.

With just under half a minute left, Renshaw blocked a Dascy shot and Curley rebounded the follow, but was called for a travel after catching the ensuing in-bounds play. Kriskus was fouled on the Judges' next inbounds play, but missed both foul shots, giving the Cougars a chance at the win. Curley missed his initial leaning jumper from the right side of the lane, but Hughes was whistled for fouling Phillips on the rebound. Phillips hit the first, but missed the second. With Clark playing back, Yemga corralled the rebound and fed Hughes, who dribbled through the defense and got to the rack for the game-winning hoop.

Kriskus was Brandeis's high scorer with 13 points, but struggled shooting the ball, hitting just 3-of-11 from the floor, 1-of-7 from deep and 6-of-10 from the line. Retos also finished in double figures with 11 points off the bench, eight of which came in the last 30 seconds of regulation and overtime. Kanya finished with a career-best nine points, six after the first half, while Yemga and Hughes each had eight points each. Yemga and Dasci tied for team-high honors with six rebounds, while Hughes also led all players with five assists, committing just one turnover in the process. Yemga also had three steals.

In a statistically tight game, the Brandeis bench outscored Clark's reserves, 36-27. After committing 11 turnovers that led to 17 Clark points in the first half, the Judges made just five miscues the rest of the way for four CU points. Meanwhile, Brandeis forced 14 Clark errors and converted them into 18 points in the second half and OT.

The Cougars were paced by 11 points each from Phillips and Vayda. Phillips had eight in the first half, while Vayda had five in the first and six after that. Curley also finished with 10 points. Vayda also had a game-high eight rebounds and tied for team-best with three assists with rookie Jake Gubitose (Fiskdale, Mass./Tantasqua Reg.).

Clark built its early 21-point cushion and led 36-24 at the break thanks to deadly 3-point shooting. They hit seven of their first eight from beyond the arc with five different players connecting from deep and finished the stanza at 77.% (7-9). The Cougars finished the game connecting on 10-of-15 from range (66.7%). But after hitting 52% (13-25) overall in the first half, they fell to 8-of-22 (36.4%) after that to finish at 44.7% (21-47).

Brandeis is back in action on Thursday at 6 p.m. against Framingham State, while Clark hosts local rival Worcester State at 7 p.m. the same day.