January 21, 2011

Bartoldus's 20 leads No. 21 Brandeis men past Chicago, 59-53

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University rookie guard Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) scored 10 of his career-high 20 points in the first eight minutes of the second half to help the 21st-ranked Judges fend off a pesky University of Chicago squad, 59-53, in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest in Red Auerbach Arena tonight. With the win, Brandeis improves to 12-2 (2-2 UAA) while Chicago falls to 5-10 (2-2 UAA).

Bartoldus became the fourth different Brandeis player to score 20 in a game this season by connecting on 5-of-10 overall, 2-of-4 from downtown and 8-of-9 from the line. He scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half.

No other Brandeis player scored more than seven points, but the Judges' bench was impressive, outscoring Chicago by a 24-8 margin. Rookie forward Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H./Tilton School) added seven points, all in the first half, while junior forward/guard Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) and sophomore guard Anthony Trapasso (Sterling, Mass./St. Johns Prep) had six each.

Kriskus led all players with 10 rebounds, matching his career-high. Junior guard Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) had a game-high seven assists, as many as the entire Chicago team. The Judges also converted 17 Maroon turnovers into 15 points, while giving up just nine points off their 13 miscues.

Chicago hung in the game thanks to a game-high 27 points from junior guard Matt Johnson (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer), one shy of his career-best. Johnson connected on 9-of-18 from the floor, 5-of-10 from beyond the arc and 4-of-6 from the line. Unfortunately, the rest of the Maroon roster hit just 6-of-28 from the field and 4-of-11 from deep. Junior forward Stephen Palmtag (Nebraska City, Nab./Bellevue West) topped the visitors with seven rebounds, while classmate Tommy Sotos (Elk Grove, Ill./Conant) had three assists.

The first half of tonight's contest featured four ties and six lead changes. Chicago took a handful of four-point leads early on and were ahead, 15-12, after a Johnson trifecta eight minutes in.

Stoyle and Trapasso kept the Judges in the game by scoring their team's next 13 points. Their hot string was capped by a Stoyle trifecta a at the 1:56 mark to break a 23-23 tie and give Brandeis the lead for good.

Bartoldus started his scoring jag just before the break. He tallied Brandeis's final five points, including a fast-break three-point play on a bullet pass from sophomore Jay Freeman (Dorchester, Mass./St. Mark's School) and a pair of free throws with two seconds left. That gave the hosts a 31-25 edge headed into the locker room. Brandeis outscored Chicago, 8-0, in points of turnovers in the first half, but the Maroons offset it by making five of their 10 3-pointers.

Bartoldus scored eight of Brandeis's first 10 points of the second half, but Johnson kept pace with nine early points. Johnson hit a trifecta on a fast break with 15:24 to get the Maroons within one at 37-36, but Brandeis rookie Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews (R.I.) School) got in the paint for a hoop after a UC timeout.

That bucket set off a 13-2 run over the next nine minutes. Brandeis's defense harassed the visitors into misses on seven of their next eight shots from the floor, plus three free throws, while also forcing four turnovers. A Bartoldus driving lay-up on a feed from Hughes pushed the Brandeis lead to 14 points at 52-38 with 6:27 left, their largest of the game.

Chicago wouldn't go away, as the Maroons closed the game on a 15-7 run of their own. Johnson had eight of UC's points in that stretch, as they climbed within 56-51 on his 3-pointer with just under two minutes to play. The Maroons got a stop on their next possession, but missed on three straight good looks from downtown, forcing them to foul Kriskus after he finally corralled the rebound. He hit one of two from the line to make it a six-point game with 49 seconds remaining.

After Chicago's Matt McKenzie (Okemos, Mich./Okemos) hit both of his freebies following an offensive rebound to cut the lead to four at 57-53 with 27 seconds left, the Maroons forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play. When they tried to heave the ball into the backcourt on their inbounds pass, Hughes was able to get to the ball first and he hit the game's last two free throws with 20 seconds left to secure the six-point victory.

Brandeis returns to action on Sunday morning with an 11:30 a.m. tip-off against Washington University, while Chicago heads to New York to take on NYU at noon.

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