WALTHAM, Mass. — The Brandeis University men's basketball team cut a 17-point deficit to four with a chance to get even closer against visiting Amherst College, but the Judges rally came up just short in a 75-70 loss in Red Auerbach Arena tonight. With the loss, the Judges fall to 6-3 on the season, while Amherst bounces back from its first loss to improve to 6-1.
When Amherst senior guard Aaron Toomey (Greensboro, N.C./Bishop McGuinness) capped a 12-3 run with a 3-pointer from the left side at the 5:26 mark of the second half, the Lord Jeffs had their largest lead of the game at 69-52.
Brandeis answered by holding the visitors scoreless over the next two minutes and 35 seconds. In that span, the Judges hit 5-of-6 free throws, including 4-of-4 by senior guard Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg). After playing a two-man game with rookie Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio/St. Andrews School, R.I.), Moton connected from downtown from right in front of the home bench at the 2:41 mark, and the lead was cut to single digits at 69-60 with 2:41 to go.
Toomey hit 1-of-2 from the line to stop the bleeding momentarily, but Brandeis senior Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) drove past Toomey on the next possession to get Brandeis within eight. The Lord Jeffs' Connor Green (Bedford, N.H./Phillips Exeter) hit two from the line, but Brandeis answered right back on a Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews School, R.I.) lay-up with 1:43 remaining, making it 72-63.
On the next possession, Toomey let the shot clock wind down before stepping back for a 3-pointer, which rattled around the rim and popped out, and Dascy tied up Amherst rookie David George (Philadelphia, Pa./Blair Acad.) for a jump ball. Dascy was fouled with 55 seconds left and hit 1—of-2 to get the Judges within seven points, 72-67.
With full court pressure, Brandeis forced Amherst into one timeout with 51.4 seconds left. The Lord Jeffs were able to break the pressure and the ball found its way into George's hands. Brandeis fouled the big man, who missed both free throws, but senior Tom Killian (Summit, N.J./Delbarton School) grabbed a key offensive rebound. Amherst was able to run more time off the clock before David Kalema (Burke, Va./Episcopal) hit two from the charity stripe with 37.3 seconds remaining to push the lead back to nine at 74-65.
Brandeis got a quick bucket off the glass by Dascy with 26.3 seconds left before calling their final timeout. On the ensuing inbounds play, they were able to send George to the line again, and again the big man missed a pair. Moton got the rebound off the second miss and raced down the court, where he hit a deep trifecta from the right side with 14.7 seconds left to cut the deficit to 74-70. After a quick foul, Brandeis sent Green to the line with 11.1 seconds left.
With a raucous crowd screaming at him, the sophomore missed twice, and Bartoldus was able to pull down the rebound with 10.6 on the clock. In the process, he was fouled by Green, giving the Judges a chance to get to within one basket. Unfortunately, both of Bartoldus's foul shots were off the mark, allowing Green to get the rebound and a measure of redemption. He missed the first of his two free throws with 9.3 seconds left, but hit the second for the final point of the game. Moton missed a rushed lay-up with less than three seconds on the clock to close out the game.
Amherst, which led for most of the game, built their big lead on the back of Toomey. The Lord Jeffs led by three, 34-31, at halftime, and the margin was still five, 41-36, when Bartoldus connected from deep at 18:15 of the second. At that point, Toomey scored eight of the game's next 10 points, including two 3-pointers, pushing the lead to 49-38. A steal by Killian led to a trifecta by Kalema at the 14:39 mark, the advantage was 14 points, 52-38.
Brandeis made run shortly thereafter, buoyed by two Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May School) 3-pointers that got the back within 10, 57-47 at the 11:06 mark. A Dascy bucket got Brandeis back within eight at 57-49 midway through the second. The Judges had a chance to get closer, but the second charging call on Bartoldus in a span of just over 90 seconds drew the ire of Brandeis coach Brian Meehan, who was called for his first technical of the season. That sparked the run that gave Amherst its largest lead before the Judges' rally.
For the game, Brandeis was led by Moton, who overcame a tough shooting night from the floor (3-12) by hitting 14-of-15 from the line and his two late trifectas to finish with 22 points. Dascy added a season-high 16 points, hitting 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-7 from the line, while Bartoldus had 13 points. He and Moton tied for team-high honors with six rebounds, while Reale and rookie guard Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.) each had two assists. Brandeis outshot Amherst, 44.9% to 43.6%.
For the visitors, Toomey led all scorers with 27 points, 19 coming in the second half. He hit 7-of-15 overall, 4-of-9 from deep, and 9-of-11 from the line. He also had a game-high six assists. Green finished with 12 points, while Kalema and Killian had 11 each. Killian had a game-high seven rebounds, as the Lord Jeffs owned a 38-29 advantage, including 13-7 on the offensive glass. The latter led to a 17-7 edge in second-chance points, offsetting Brandeis's 22-15 margin in points off turnovers.
Brandeis is off until 2014, when they take on Roger Williams on Thursday, January 2 at home at 6 p.m. Amherst has one last game this semester, this Thursday at Babson at 7 p.m.