January 14, 2011

Cold second half dooms No. 13 men to first loss, 53-52, at CMU

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- The 13th-ranked Brandeis University men saw their luck and their 11-game winning streak come to a halt tonight, dropping a 53-52 decision to Carnegie Mellon in a University Athletic Association contest. The Judges, who were 4-0 in games decided by a bucket or less, had the final offensive possession of the contest, but the Tartans blocked rookie Ben Bartoldus's (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) runner in the lane. Brandeis falls to 11-1, 1-1 in the UAA, while CMU improves to 4-8, 1-1 in the conference.

The contest was a tale of two halves. The Judges owned a 34-31 lead at the break, as they outshot Carnegie Mellon, 48 percent to 34.5 percent and outrebounded them, 22-17. Juniors Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) and Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness (N.H.) School) combined for 16 points - eight each - on 6-of-8 overall and 3-of-4 from downtown.

Brandeis led by as many as eight points at 21-13 after a pair of Ruben Kanya (Ottawa, Ont./Bridgton (Maine) Acad.) free throws just over 11 minutes into the game. CMU fought back and eventually tied the game at 29-29 on Shane Rife's (Mercersburg, Pa./Buchanan) freebies 2:25 before the break.

Hughes responded from downtown and sophomore Wouter van der Eng (Alphen aun der Rijn, Netherlands/Kimball Union (N.H.) Acad.) added a hoop before the Tartans' Rob Mohen (Stamford, Conn./Regis School) hit a bucket and was fouled just before the break. Mohen missed the free throw - one of 10 CMU misses from the charity stripe in the first half. Rookie Raushan Reilly (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek) had 10 points to keep the Tartans within striking distance.

In the second half, the Judges opened with a lay-up by rookie Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews School) at the 19:02 mark to push the lead back to five points, 36-31 - and then did not hit another field goal for more than 12 minutes. Brandeis missed 13 straight shots before Kanya connected at the 6:46 mark, allowing CMU to go on a 15-4 run. They took a 46-38 lead on two Joe Kromka free throws (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway) bfore Kanya's bucket.

Brandeis was still down seven with 3:08 remaining when Rife hit a jumper in the lane to put the Tartans up, 50-43. The Judges, who have twice escaped double-digit second-half deficits this season, answered, as Kanya hit from deep to cut the lead back to four. On the next two Carnegie Mellon possessions, senior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor (N.H.) Acad.) and Hughes each came up with a steal thanks to backcourt pressure, then got to the line on offense. Hughes's two foul shots with 55 seconds left knotted the game at 50.

On the next CMU possession, the Tartans were able to successfully break the pressure, with junior John Duhring finding Rife behind the defense for a 52-50 lead. Hughes responded with two more free throws with 33 seconds left, but rookie Christian Manoli (San Rafael, Calif./Terra Linda) was fouled just five seconds later.

Manoli hit the first of two free throws to give the Tartans a 53-52 lead, but Bartoldus grabbed the rebound. Brandeis eschewed a timeout on the offensive end, prefering to work the ball around the perimeter. As the clock wound down, Bartoldus drove into the lane, but his floater was swatted away by Manoli as time expired, denying the Judges their second buzzer-beater in as many UAA games.

In the end, Brandeis shot just 18 percent in the second half (4-22), including just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc for the nation's second-best 3-point shooting team entering the game. Hughes finished with a game-high 13 points, while Kanya added 11. Riley, Manoli and Rife each had 10 points for the Tartans. Manoli, Rife and Duhring also tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds, while Dascy led the Judges with six boards.

Both teams return to UAA action on Sunday, when the Judges are in Cleveland to take on Case Western Reserve, while Carnegie Mellon hosts NYU. Both games are at noon. In the first eight games of the UAA season so far, seven have been decided by six points or fewer, including five by one or two points and another by four points.