January 20, 2013

Brandeis men knock off #13 WashU, 67-62, to complete Midwest sweep

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team completed a sweep of their University Athletic Association (UAA) Midwest trip for just the second time ever today, as the Judges defeated 13th-ranked Washington University, 67-62, in the WU Field House today. With the win, the Judges improve to 14-2 and remain tied with #2 Rochester atop the UAA with a 5-0 record. They join the 2010 squad as the only ones to complete the Chicago-WashU sweep, and pick up just their third-ever win in St. Louis. The Bears fall to 12-4, 2-3 UAA, and sit three games back.

The Judges were led by juniors Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May School) and Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg), who scored 37 of the team's 46 points in the second half as Brandeis overcame a four-point halftime deficit. Retos led all players with all of his game-high 23 points coming after the break, when he hit 6-of-9 from 3-point range, including four in a row at one point. Retos's 23 points off the bench were 11 more than the entire WashU reserves combined. With his six 3-pointers, Retos became just the seventh player with 150 for his career at Brandeis, moving into sixth overall with 154. He needs three more from downtown to move into the top five.

Moton, the team's leading scorer, had three points in the first half when he hit just 1-of-8, but in the second he connected on 4-of-6 with a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws for 14 points. Moton buried what proved to be the game-winning trifecta from the top of the key as the shot clock expired with 1:19 left in regulation, snapping a 57-57 tie, the sixth deadlock of a game that also featured 11 lead changes.

Brandeis did a fine job on the boards in the contest, especially in the second half. Against a Bear squad leading Division III with a +13.3 rebound margin entering the weekend, the Judges won the battle of the boards, 21-14, in the second half and trailed by a slim 39-38 margin for the game. The Judges had a balanced attack on the boards, with six different players grabbing between four and six caroms. Junior Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) led the Judges with six boards, while senior Wouter van der Eng (Alphen aun der Rijn, Netherlands/Kimball Union, Vt., Acad.) and junior Alex Schmidt (Dublin, Ireland/Fork Union, Va., Military Acad.) with five each, including four on the offensive glass for Schmidt. Moton, with four assists, and Retos with three, combined for seven of the Judges' 10 assists.

WashU put three starters in double figures, led by Chris Klimeks' 18 points. Matt Palucki had a terrific all-around contest for the Bears, with 12 points and game-highs of nine rebounds and five assists. Alan Aboona finished with 10 points on three 3-pointers, and had four helpers. Washington took nearly twice as many free throws as the Judges (30-16), but the hosts hit just 15 of those foul shots for  50 percent from the line. After holding the Judges to 23.3% shooting (7-30) in the first half as they built a 25-21 lead, WashU allowed the visitors to connect on a 53.6% clip (15-28), including 53.3% from beyond the arc (8-15).

Brandeis trailed by as many as six points in the first half at 11-5 eight minutes in, but the Judges scored 10 unanswered points, the last five by senior Jay Freeman (Dorchester, Mass./Taft School) off the bench. The Judges were ahead, 18-14, on a Bartoldus trifecta with 3:42 on the clock , but WashU closed on a 12-3 run – sparked by an answer long ball from Ben Hoener - to take the four-point 25-21 edge into the locker room.

Brandeis opened the second half with nine of the first 14 points, tying the game on a Moton jumper and reclaiming the lead,30-29, with his trifecta at the 17:13 mark. After a rare free throw miss by Retos on a technical foul shortly after, Palucki knotted the game, 31-31, on a lay-up with 16:05 left. WashU hit 1-of-2 from the line to go ahead by one on their next possession, but Retos caught fire after that. He hit 3-pointers on four of the Judges' next six possessions – several from 25 feet out – capping a 14-8 run. The Bears didn't go away, reclaiming a one-point lead three more times the rest of the way, but the Judges answered each time, once with a Moton jumper and twice with Retos from downtown.

After Klimek tied the game at 57-57 with an underneath lay-up and 2:30 left on the clock, came the most important possession of the game. The Judges twice missed 3-pointers on the possession, but Schmidt corralled the offensive boards each time. The third time was the charm, as the Judges probed the WashU defense before Moton connected from deep as the shot clock expired. Brandeis then hit 7-of-8 from the free throw line to keep the hosts at bay.

Brandeis continued its four-game UAA road trip next weekend at Emory University at 8 p.m.