No. 13 Brandeis tops Bates, 53-50, to set school record for best start

LEWISTON, Maine (info taken from a Bates College press release) -- With a narrow 53-50 victory over host Bates College tonight, the Brandeis University men's basketball team is off to the best start in school history. At 11-0, the 13th-ranked Judges surpassed the 1956-57 squad for most consecutive wins to start a season. The Bobcats nearly pulled off a second-half comeback, but fell to 8-6 on the season.

Brandeis got a season-high 13 points from senior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor (N.H.) Acad.) to lead the way. Yemga hit 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer, finishing two points shy of his career high. Rookie forward Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrew's (R.I.) School) added 12 points on 5-of-7 from the field and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds, while classmate Alex Schmidt (Dublin, Ireland/Fork River (Va.) Military Acad.) scored 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench. Junior guard Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) had a fine all-around performance with six points, a game-high seven assists and six rebounds, tying his career-best. Hughes played all 40 minutes for the third time this season.

Brandeis, which came into the game second in Division III in 3-point field goal percentage (44.6%),  overcame its worst night of the season from downtown (3-14, 21.4%) by holding the Bobcats to their worst effort from the floor at 34.5% and earning a 36-29 rebounding edge.

Senior forward Brian Ellis (Braintree, Mass./Braintree) led Bates with 13 points, and sophomore Mark Brust (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) added 12. The Bobcats committed only three turnovers in the game, but were outscored, 30-18, in the paint.

The first half featured four ties and three lead changes. With the score tied at 21-21 just under 15 minutes into the game, Brandeis closed the stanza on a 7-2 run that gave them a 27-23 edge at the break. Schmidt connected on his first career 3-pointer to break the deadlock and give the Judges a lead they would never relinquish. Dascy and Yemga scored twice in the last minute before the break to open up the four-point lead. Schmidt finished with a game-high nine first-half points.

After the teams traded buckets to start the second half, an Alex Gallant (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) free throw cut the Bobcats' deficit back to four at 32-28, just 3:01 in. The Judges answered with a 9-2 run over the next five minutes, with four points each coming from Yemga and rookie Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.). Hughes had three assists, a rebound and a steal in the run that made it 41-30 with 11:06 to go.

The Judges pushed the lead to as many as 12 on a Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) trifecta and were still up eight, 49-41, with 3:39 to go after he  hit one of two from the line. Bates made a late rally, though, getting to 49-45 on Brust's three-pointer with 1:58 left in the game. Yemga hit a jumper to bump the lead back to six, but a jumper by senior Nick Schmiemann (Weymouth, Mass./Boston College HS) with 1:11 to go and an unassisted three by Brust with 28 seconds left cut it to 51-50 with 28 seconds to go. Hughes made a pair of free throws for the Judges, though, and Bates missed two would-be game-tying threes in the last 14 seconds to fall short.

Brandeis is back in action on Friday night at 8 p.m. when they play their first University Athletic Association road contest at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Bates takes on their second-straight ranked opponent when they face No. 6 Williams Friday at 6 p.m. in a NESCAC showdown.