Brandeis men rally from nine down to top Case, 55-53

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team erased a nine-point second-half deficit to earn their fifth win of the season by three points or less as the Judges defeated Case Western Reserve, 55-53, in a University Athletic Association contest today. Brandeis improves to 15-7, 5-6 in the UAA, with their first win on a conference Sunday, while Case falls to 8-14, 4-7 UAA.

In a sloppy first half, the game featured four ties and eight lead changes. Early in the contest, the teams combined to hit just three of their first 21 shots from the floor. Neither team was able to pull away, with the largest edge in the first half a pair of four-point leads by the Spartans in the last four minutes of action. Both times, however, Brandeis hit a 3-pointer to answer. Case sophomore Austin Fowler (Farmington Hills, Mich./Brother Rice) scored the last four points of the half, and his team's last seven overall, giving the visitors a 26-23 lead on a lay-up just before the buzzer sounded.

Fowler led all players with 13 first-half points, while junior Tom Summers (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Reg.) added seven. The two combined for 20 of the team's 26 points. Meanwhile, Brandeis's eight field goals came from eight different players, with rookie Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) hitting a pair of foul shots to give him four points. The Judges owned the boards in the first half, 22-17, thanks to eight boards by senior Christian Yemga (Yaounde, Cameroon/Proctor Acad.), but the Spartans outscored Brandeis, 11-5, from the line.

After Brandeis tied the score at 27-27 just over 90 seconds into the second half on a Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews School), Case went on a key run. The Spartans scored the game's next eight points over the next 3:11, with four different players hitting buckets capped by a Fowler with a lay-up that made it 35-27 with 15:16 to go. After three empty possessions on each side, Brandeis sophomore Jay Freeman (Dorchester, Mass./St. Marks School) drove the lane for a lay-up, but Summers answered with a traditional three-point play that pushed the lead to 39-28 at the 13:28 mark.

The visitors were still up by nine a minute later when the Judges started their comeback. They scored the next six points of the game, making it a one-possession game (40-37) after two Freeman free throws at the 9:16 mark, but Fowler connected from downtown to stem the tide. A Yemga free throw and a 3-pointer by rookie forward Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H./Tilton School) got the Judges within 43-41 with 8:06 left.

The Judges had a couple of chances to take tie the game or take the lead in the next six minutes, but Case was able to cling to the lead until the Judges' defense stepped up, holding the visitors to one field goal over the final 3:23. After Summers hit a lay-up with 2:45 remaining to put the Spartans ahead, 51-47, with 2:45 on the clock, junior guard Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) came off a screen to knock down a 15-foot jumper. On Case's next possession, Freeman picked a Spartan pocket and converted a lay-up, tying the game at 51-51 with 1:41 to go.

Both teams got stops on their next possessions before Mike Byrne (Newton, Pa./Holy Ghost) hit a pair of free throws with 44.7 seconds left to put the visitors back ahead. Brandeis brought the ball back into the front court and called a timeout, and Hughes got to the line with 33.2 seconds left to knot the game at 53-53.

Case called their fifth timeout to set up a play, but the Spartans were forced to use their last to avoid a five-second call. On the ensuing inbounds play, the Spartans fumbled the ball out of bounds, giving Brandeis possession. Brandeis worked the ball around the perimeter before dumping it into Dascy, who drew another foul. He hit one of two from the line with 8.1 seconds left, proving to be the game-winning point.

The Judges called a timeout after Dascy hit the second to set up a defense, and again to see how the Spartans set up. Case senior Colin Mulholland (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) was able to get off a good look at a 3-pointer from the top of the circle, but was off the mark. Stoyle pulled down the rebound and hit another free throw with two-tenths of a second left to close out the scoring.

For the game, Brandeis's bench was a big story, outscoring Case's by a 29-8 margin. Eleven different Judges scored a basket in the contest, with only Freeman scoring more than two hoops from the field. Dascy led the team with 11 points on 2-of-6 from the field and 7-of-9 from the line, while Freeman finished with a career-high 10. He hit 3-of-5 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line. The Judges also owned a 41-30 rebounding advantage thanks to Yemga's career-best 11 in his final home game. Dascy also finished with seven boards, four on the offensive glass. Hughes had two assists, though the Judges had a team season-low four helpers. The win was the Judges' third when trailing at the half this season.

For Case, Fowler finished with 22 points to lead all players on 6-of-15 overall, 2-of-4 from downtown and 8-of-8 from the line. Summers added 17 on 7-of-13 from the floor, 3-of-6 from the line. Both players tied for team-high honors with six rebounds. Tim Chung (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos) had two assists for the Spartans.