WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team had tough first half from the floor against visiting Lasell College as the Lasers built a 21-point halftime lead and held off a furious rally by the Judges to prevail, 91-82, in the season opener for both teams.
With nine different players scoring in double figures - five for the hosts and four for the visitors – the difference came down to the Judges' dreadful start. Brandeis hit just 20 percent from the field (7-35) in the first stanza, while the Lasers connected on 51.7 percent (15-29). Lasell also outshot Brandeis from 3-point range (58.3% to 16.7%) and from the line (76.9% to 52.6%). The Lasers built a 47-26 halftime lead as junior guard Sean Bertanza (Seymour, Conn./Trinity Pawling) and classmate Sonny Melo (Fall River, Mass./Durfee), a forward, each scored 13 points, combining to score as many points as the entire Brandeis roster. Senior Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) paced the Judges with eight points and seven rebounds.
The Lasers scored the first five points on a 3-pointer by junior guard Arthur Alexander (Port St. Lucie, Fla./John Carroll) and a lay-up by senior forward Javon Williams (Mattapan, Mass./Cathedral) to double up the Judges at 52-26 less than a minute in. Brandeis, which twice overcame 19-point deficits to win last season, was not daunted, going on a 19-8 run over the next six minutes to get within 15 points on a Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May) trifecta at the 13:09 mark.
Lasell answered with nine of the next 13 points to push the lead back to 20 points, 69-59, on a Dominik Orloff (Slupsk, Poland/Henry P. Becton) lay-up at 11:25. After a Brandon Ganesh (Wellington, Fla./American Heritage) bomb made it with 8:55 remaining, the Judges were still down by 17 when they made another push. Bookend layups by senior guard Tyrone Hughes (Roslindale, Mass./Taft School) were part of an 11-3 that cut the lead to single digits at 76-67 with 4:02 left. After Ganesh answered with two from the line for Lasell, Brandeis sophomore center Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrew's School) was fouled on a put-back and converted the three-point play, making in just an eight-point deficit with 3:29 left.
The visitors were resilient, however, with Ganesh feeding Orloff with time running down on the shot clock on their next possession and then getting a stop. Two free throws made the lead 12 points with just 2:27 left, and the Judges were unable to get the deficit back to single digits until just before an uncontested lay-up at the final horn.
Lasell was led by Bertanza, who finished with 17 points on 6-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-3 from downtown, and 2-of-3 from the line. He also led the visitors with nine rebounds and three steals. Senior Nate DiSessa (West Palm Beach, Fla./Grandview Prep) and Ganesh had 15 each, while Mello finished with 13. Alexander led all players with five assists. After their fine shooting performance in the first half, Lasell improved to 54.2 percent in the second (13-24) to finish at 52.8% for the game (28-53). They also connected on 55.6% from beyond the arc (10-18) and 78.1% from the line (25-32).
Brandeis's shooting improved dramatically in the second half as they came back, hitting 20-of-39 in the second (51.3%), but it only enough to raise their efficiency to 36.5% for the game (27-74). For the second year in a row, they had two double-double performances, as Dascy finished with game-highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds for his third career double-double, while Kriskus picked up his second with 17 points and 11 boards, including seven on the offensive glass. Bartoldus finished with 13 points, while Retos and Hughes had 10 each. The Judges outrebounded the Lasers, 48-33, including 25-5 on the offensive glass, but it wasn't enough to overcome the shooting woes.
Brandeis returns to action on Thursday evening against Emerson College at 7 p.m., while Lasell hits the floor against Nichols in their home opener at the same time.