Men's basketball drops 88-82 OT decision to Fitchburg State

Robinson Vilmont '17/Jordan Cooper '18 (photos by
Robinson Vilmont '17/Jordan Cooper '18 (photos by

WALTHAM, Mass. – In the first-ever meeting between the two programs, the visiting Fitchburg State University men's basketball team outlasted the host Brandeis University Judges, 88-82, in overtime in Red Auerbach Arena tonight. The Falcons even their record at 6-6, while the Judges drop to 5-4.

      FSU was paced by junior Jaleel Bell (Dorchester, Mass./Wayland), who scored 20 of his 28 points in the second half and overtime. Bell connected on a go-ahead basket with 4.5 seconds left in regulation as he put back his own miss, then went a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the extra session to secure the win. Fitchburg State did not miss in the final five minutes, hitting all four of their field goal attempts in addition to Bell's performance at the line. Bell also led the Falcons with eight rebounds. Sophomore Josh Bosworth (Springfield, Mass./E. Longmeadow) added 15 points for the visitors, hitting 6-of-8 from the floor.

      Brandeis had three players score in double figures. Junior Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson) had just two points in 17 minutes in the first half, but scorched the nets for 21 in the second half to finish with a career-high 23. His final bucket was a lay-up with 1.4 seconds left on a long outlet pass from classmate Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio/St. Andrews School, R.I.) that forced overtime.

Sophomore Jordan Cooper (Weston, Fla./Sagemont School) also had 23 points, scoring 11 in the second half and four of the team's 10 points in overtime. He also had a game-high nine rebounds, a new career-best. Junior Jack Fay (New Rochelle, N.Y./Suffield, Conn., Acad.) matched his career scoring high with 14 points on 4-of-5 overall, 3-of-4 from downtown and 3-of-4 from the line. Reale led all players with a career-high seven assists.

The game was all FSU in the first half, as they jumped out to a 14-2 lead just over eight minutes into the game, with Bell supplying six of those early points. The teams traded runs, but the Judges were still down 12 at 30-18 with 3:03 left after two Lance Hill (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) free throws.  

The Judge bounced back with 10 unanswered points over the next two-plus minutes, getting four each from Fay and Cooper before a late Leonny Burgos (Lawrence, Mass./Lawrence) steal and layup gave FSU a 32-28 lead at halftime.

After Bell opened the second half with a 3-pointer, Brandeis answered with a huge run, scoring 16 straight points, including dunks on back-to-back possessions by junior John Powell (Ashland, Mass./Brimmer and May) and Cooper to start the run. Vilmont scored the next seven points – five from the line – before Fay capped it with a trifecta at the 14:41 mark that made it a 44-35 lead for the Judges.

The Falcons answered with an 8-0 run of their own thanks to long-range buckets by Anthony Muccioli (Nashua, N.H./Nashua) and Bell, making it a one-point game. Brandeis pushed the lead back to five after two Cooper foul shots at the 11:03 mark, but FSU scored eight in a row to reclaim the lead. At that point, the final stretch of regulation featured nine ties and three lead changes before Bell's and Vilmont's dramatics and the game went to OT tied at 72-72.

In overtime, Brandeis hit their first two buckets by Cooper and junior Samuel Dowden (Andover, Mass./Andover) to take a four-point lead just over a minute in. Lance Hill (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) answered with a jumper, but Cooper pushed the lead back to four, 78-74, with 3:21 left. Williams drove for a lay-up to cut into the lead, and Bell's first two freebies at 2:33 tied the game at 78.

Bosworth put Fitchburg State up, 80-78, but Reale drew a foul from beyond the arc with 1:13 left. He hit 2-of-3 to knot the game, but FSU's Leonny Burgos (Lawrence, Mass./Lawrence) hit a jumper with around 45 second to go for what proved to be the game-winning bucket. On the next Brandeis possession, FSU's Bosworth blocked a shot by Cooper and forced a tie-up, giving the ball to the visitors. Bell hit two from the line on the other end, and hit his next four as well to clinch the win.

Brandeis returns to action on Saturday, January 2, at Springfield College for the Naismith Classic, where they will meet Bates College at 5:30 p.m.


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