Men's hoops tests WashU but falls, 87-75

Sophomore Collin Sawyer and Eric D'Aguanno (photos by
Sophomore Collin Sawyer and Eric D'Aguanno (photos by

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team hit a season-high 13 3-pointers and cut a 16-point first-half deficit to two early in the second half, but the Judges couldn't get over the hump as they dropped an 87-75 decision to Washington (Mo.) University in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest tonight. With the loss, the Judges fall to 5-16 on the season, 1-9 in the UAA. The Bears, ranked second in Division III by, improve to 19-2, 10-0 in the UAA.

After trailing by 16 with 4:42 left in the first half, the Judges used the long ball to get back in the game. Sophomore Eric D'Aguanno (Saunderstown, R.I./St. Andrews School) hit three times from deep as the Judges climbed within eight at 43-35 before a late David Schmelter (St. Louis, Mo./St. Louis University High) bucket gave the visitors a 45-35 lead at the break.

The Judges opened the second half on a 10-2 run, getting within 47-45 on a long ball by junior Corey Sherman (Penn Valley, Pa./Lower Merion) with 17:14 on the clock. WashU scored the next four points of the game to gain some distance, but the Judges were still within three at 15:34 on a Lawrence Sabir (Providence, R.I./LaSalle Academy) jumper. At that point, the Bears embarked on a 14-2 run over the next six-plus minutes to pull away. Senior Kevin Kucera (Evanston, Ill./Loyola Academy) scored the first six points of the string, with classmate Andrew Sanders (Tampa, Fla./Plant) adding another six, capping the run with a lay-up that made it 68-53 with 8:32 on the clock. WashU would go up by as many as 19 points in the second half before the Judges found the range again to make the final 12-point deficit.

Brandeis finished with 13 trifectas, representing their highest total since setting a school-record of 17 in their previous home meeting with Washington U. a year ago in Waltham. The Judges connected on 61.9% from long distance (13-of-21), their best performance in a game with 10 or more makes since 2011.

Brandeis put five different players in double figures in scoring, with D'Aguanno and classmate Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) each finishing with 14 points and four 3-pointers. D'Aguanno had nine points in the first half, while Sawyer netted 11 in the second. Rookie Chandler Jones (Springfield, Mass./Springfield Commonwealth Academy) added 13, 11 coming in the second half, as he played a career-high 38 minutes. Sherman finished with 11 points, while senior Nate Meehan (Lowell, Mass./Phillips Andover) added 10 points off the bench with three 3-pointers. In the process, Meehan moved into Brandeis's career top-10 with his 118th career trifecta.

Jones and rookie Akim Sanni (Cotonou, Benin / Tabor Academy, N.H.) led Brandeis with six rebounds each, while Sabir finished with six assists, tied for game-high honors. Brandeis hit 49.1% from the field overall (26-of-53).

Washington's Sanders led all players with 24 points on 12-of-17 shooting. He scored 14 in the second half. Kucera added 14 points, while senior Matt Highsmith (Ballwin, Mo./Parkway South) had 11. Senior Jake Knupp (St. Paul, Minn./East Ridge) had a fine all-around game for the Bears, finishing with nine points and tying for game-high honors with six rebounds and six assists.

Washington hit 50.7% from the field (34-of-67) and 47.1% from 3-point range (8-of-17). They had a slim 31-30 edge in rebounding, but won the turnover battle, 16-9, converting those turnovers into 12 points to eight for the Judges.

Brandeis returns to action on Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. when they take on the University of Chicago in another UAA contest. Washington is at NYU at the same time.