Men's hoops drops heartbreaker in season opener, 78-76, to UMass Dartmouth

Sam Dowden '17 (photo by Sportspix/Mike Broglio)
Sam Dowden '17 (photo by Sportspix/Mike Broglio)

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Brandeis University men's basketball team got a career-high 21 points from sophomore Samuel Dowden (Andover, Mass./Andover) in his first collegiate start, but visiting UMass Dartmouth's Jordan Rezendes (Onset, Mass./Wareham) had 20, including the game-winning bucket with three-tenths of a second left to give the Corsairs a 78-76 non-conference win over the Judges in Red Auerbach Arena tonight.

The game featured 12 ties and 18 lead changes, but Dowden and Rezendes helped to decide it down the stretch. Brandeis led, 71-70, with 2:59 left on the clock, but Rezendes scored the next four points at the line to put the visitors ahead, 74-71, with 1:50 to go. Dowden knotted the game at 74 with a 3-pointer from the right elbow at 1:27 on the clock, then scored a cutting lay-up on a feed from rookie Carlin Haymon (Boston, Mass./Rivers School) with 52 seconds left to put the Judges ahead, 76-74.

After Rezendes scored on a driving lay-up with 38 seconds remaining, Brandeis had a chance to go back ahead. The Judges wound the game and shot clock down before launching a 3-pointer from the corner. Dowden caught the ball and put it back up and in, but the referees conferred and agreed that the shot clock should have gone off before Dowden released the ball. They put one second back on the clock, resetting it 8.7 seconds. That was enough time for Rezendes to drive the length of the floor and hit the game-winning bucket on a reverse lay-up with the clock reading 0.3 seconds. The following in-bounds play was deflected, ending the contest.

Brandeis owned a 37-31 lead at halftime, thanks to 12 points from Haymon, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Judges scored 11 of the first 14 points of the second half, hitting their first five shots to take a 48-34 lead less than three minutes in. UMD's Jake Laga (Northampton, Mass./Northampton) hit a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding and kick off a flurry of trifectas that got the visitors back in the game. Still down by eight at the 13:53 mark, the Corsairs hit from downtown on four of their next five possessions, claiming a 57-55 lead when Rezendes hit from deep midway through the period to set up the wild finish.

Brandeis put three players in double figures, led by Dowden, who scored 15 of his game-high 21 in the second half. He hit 9-of-13 from the field, 3-of-4 from downtown and had five rebounds, four on the offensive glass. His previous career-best was seven points last season. Haymon finished with 18 points after his big first half. He connected on 6-of-12 overall, 3-of-6 from deep and 3-of-5 from the line. Haymon added four rebounds and four assists. Sophomore Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio/St. Andrews School, R.I.) reached double digits for the first time in college with 11 points. Graduate student forward Connor Arnold (Andover, Mass./Deerfield Acad.) had a fine all-around game, with team-highs of six rebounds and five assists along with six points.

For UMass Dartmouth, Rezendes scored 16 of his 20 in the second half. He hit 7-of-16 overall, 2-of-4 and all four free throws. Senior guard John Genkos (Worcester, Mass./Doherty) added 15 points, while Lada had 13. Both had four assists to tie for team-high honors. Junior Wale Abraham (Lynn, Mass./Lynn Classical) and senior Alex Rodrigues (Fall River, Mass./Durfee) tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds.

Brandeis returns to action this weekend when they head to Rhode Island College Saturday at 1 p.m. UMass Dartmouth hosts Salem State at 3 p.m. on Saturday.