Rally falls just short for men at No. 23 Emory, 65-62

Vytas Kriskus '12 (photo by SportsPix)

ATLANTA, Ga. – The Brandeis men's basketball team had a valiant rally today on the road against 23rd-ranked Emory, coming back from 12 points down to take a late lead and then tie the game on a Vytas Kriskus (Kvedarna, Lithuania/Holderness School) 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, but the Eagles' Jake Davis connect from deep with three seconds left in regulation to help the hosts escape with a 65-62 win in University Athletic Association action. With the loss, the Judges fall back into fourth place in the UAA at 12-10 overall, 6-5 UAA. Emory improves to 18-4, 7-4 UAA and moves into a tie with NYU for second, two games behind first-place Washington University.

Brandeis put three scorers in double figures, with Kriskus putting up his third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The 3-pointer late in the contest was the 150th of his career, making him the sixth Brandeis player to reach that plateau. Kriskus also needs just 23 points to become the program's 30th 1,000-point scorer. Sophomore center Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrew's  (R.I.) School) led the Judges with 15 points on 7-of-14 from the floor, while classmate Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) also scored 13 points. Senior Tyrone Hughes (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) had six assists and played 40 minutes in a game for the sixth time this season and 10th in his career. Brandeis outshot Emory, 49 percent to 46 percent, falling for just the third time all season when putting up a better percentage from the field or shooting better than 45 percent as a team. The Judges were outscored, 16-6, from the  free throw line, and 22-8 in points off turnovers.

Davis scored a game-high 18 points, including the crucial game-winning trifecta as time expired on a nice feed from a driving Austin Claunch. Davis hit 7-of-13 from the field, including 2-of-2 from deep and from the line. Claunch added 14 and a team-high four assists, while Alex Greven had 11 thanks to a 6-for-6 performance from the charity stripe. The Eagles won despite scoring more than 20 points below their season average.

After Brandeis scored the first basket of the game, Emory answered with the next eight points, six in a row by Claunch. EU led by as many as 13 points in the first half and took a 32-22 lead into the break. Claunch finished with nine first-half points and Davis had eight, while Dascy paced the Judges with six. Dascy opened the scoring the second half, followed by four straight free throws by Greven that made it a 12-point game, 36-24, at the 18:14 mark. Brandeis climbed back in the game as they held Emory without a field goal over the first seven-and-a-half minutes of the second half. They climbed within one at 43-42 on a trifecta from junior Anthony Trapasso (Sterling, Mass./St. John's High) with 11:01 on the clock.

Emory responded with seven-straight points, pushing the lead back to eight at 50-42 when Greven dialed long distance at the 8:53 mark. Brandeis responded with a 9-0 run of their own, kick-started by Bartoldus, whose long bomb matched Greven's, while his lay-up at 6:48 gave the Judges their first lead, 51-50, since the game's opening bucket. Emory's Nash Oh tied the game at the line, while Kriskus's lay-up made it a two-point Brandeis lead. A Dascy putback at 5:43 gave Brandeis their final lead, but Claunch knotted the game at 55 from the line with just over five minutes left in regulation. Emory took the 58-55 lead on a Justin Resnick 3-pointer 4:02 left, and the teams traded blows while using up chunks of the shot clock down the stretch. Brandeis was still down three when Kriskus connected from beyond the arc with 35 seconds left, but that allowed just enough time for Davis's heroics. Brandeis had a last possession with three second on the clock but were unable to get off a shot.

The Judges return home for their final three games of the season, taking conference leader Washington University next Friday evening at 8 p.m.