Judges can't climb out of early hole in 79-65 loss at Amherst

Alex Schmidt '14 (courtesy Sportspix)
Alex Schmidt '14 (courtesy Sportspix)

AMHERST, MA (courtesy Amherst College sports information)– The Brandeis men's basketball team fell into a deep early hole, and couldn't quite climb out of it tonight as the Judges fell to third-ranked Amherst College,  79-65, in non-conference action Tuesday evening in LeFrak Gymnasium. The Lord Jeffs scored 18 of the game's first 21 points and never relinquished the lead, but the Judges were able to trim a 21-point second-half deficit to eight with just under four minutes to go before the hosts were able to put them away.

Brandeis missed its first six shots and turned the ball over three times in the opening four minutes, allowing the Lord Jeffs to sprint out to a 9-0 lead thanks to outstanding team basketball. Junior Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft  School) put the Judges on the board with a 3-pointer, but the hosts used another 9-0 run to push the score to 18-3. Brandeis would hit only three shots in the opening 10 minutes, as Amherst led by double digits for the final 13:50 of the opening period.

Brandeis rookie center Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews (R.I.) School) hit a layup as time expired to make it a 40-24 game at the half. The Judges started 2-of-13 from the floor and would finish the first period at 9-of-29 (31.0 percent), while Amherst shot 46.4 percent overall and 12-of-14 from the free throw line. Senior Conor Meehan (Meriden, Conn.) led all scorers with 14 points at the break, with junior Tim Prowitt (Arlington, Va.) providing seven of the Amherst bench's 12 first-half points. 

The Judges came out much sharper in the second half, with back-to-back three-point plays by rookies Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) and Alex Schmidt (Dublin, Ireland/Fork Union (Va.) Military Acad.) leading a 12-2 run that brought the score to 55-45 with 12:55 to play. Brandeis stayed within striking distance but would not cut its deficit to single digits until Hughes knocked down a 3-pointer with 4:09 to play, making it a 72-63 game.

A Dascy layup on the visitors' next possession made it 72-65 in favor of the hosts, but a free throw by sophomore Peter Kaasila '13 (Plaistow, N.H.) and a David Waller  (Tampa, Fla.) three from the left wing pushed Amherst's lead back to 11 (76-65) and put the game out of reach with only 2:10 to play.

Allen Williamson '13 (Saugus, MA) and Conor Meehan '11 (Meriden, CT) combined for 38 points and 10 rebounds for the Lord Jeffs (21-0), who earned their first regular-season victory over the Judges since the 2006-07 season. Brandeis (13-7) has now lost four consecutive games and seven of its past nine.

In addition to Meehan's game-high 21 points and Williamson's 17, Amherst got 13 points from Aaron Toomey '14 (Greensboro, NC) thanks to an 8-of-8 performance at the line, as the Lord Jeffs hit 29 of their 35 free throws in the game. Ben Bartoldus '14 had 12 points to lead the Judges, who shot 18.8 percent from long range (3-of-16) and 62.9 percent from the charity stripe (22-of-35).

Schmidt finished right behind Bartoldus with 11 points, while senior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.) had six points, nine boards and three assists. Amherst, which entered the game leading Division III in rebounding margin, held a 41-34 edge on the glass.

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Friday, Feb. 11, when they travel to take on Middlebury College at 6 p.m. in a pivotal conference game. The Judges will host Carnegie Mellon Friday at 8 p.m.