WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team erased a nine-point halftime deficit tonight, finishing the game on a 10-4 run to defeat the visiting Bates College Bobcats, 71-66. With the win, the Judges finish their non-conference schedule with an 8-3 record, their best since 2013-14. The Bobcats see a two-game winning streak snapped as they fall to 7-4.
The game featured seven ties and 13 lead changes. After a back-and-forth first 10 minutes of the contest, Bates went on a sustained run late in the first half. The Judges were within two, 21-19, after a Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) lay-up with 7:13 remaining. Bates went on to score 19 of the game's next 21 points, establishing a 17-point lead at 39-22 on Kenny Aruwajoye's lay-up with 2:22 on the clock. Brandeis started their comeback by closing the first half on a 10-2 run. Junior guard Lawrence Sabir (Providence, R.I./LaSalle Academy) capped it with an athletic blocked shot, grabbing the rebound and taking it the distance to cut the halftime deficit to single digits at 41-32. Sawyer and Bates rookie Omar Sarr tied for game-high honors with 11 first-half points.
The Judges quickly made it a one-possession game, opening on an 8-2 run with back-to-back 3-pointers from Sawyer and a lay-up by sophomore center Nolan Hagerty (Yarmouth, Maine/Yarmouth). After a Bobcat timeout, the Judges got within one on a Sabir jumper that made it 43-42 with 16:18 left. Sawyer eventually tied the game at 45-all a minute later, but Bates kept the home team at bay until Hagerty hit two free throws with just under six minutes to go that made it 55-54.
The rest of the game featured six more lead changes until the Judges scored back-to-back buckets with under three minutes to go. Senior Eric D'Aguanno (Saunderstown, R.I./St. Andrews School) found Hagerty with a behind-the-back pass with 2:26 to go that gave Brandeis the lead for good, 63-62. After a missed 3-pointer from the Bobcats, Hagerty connected with rookie Dylan Lien (Northborough, Mass./Worcester Academy), who buried a dagger 3-pointer from the left side with 1:33 left. After getting another stop, the Judges were able to hit five of their last six free throws to salt the game away.
Sawyer led all players for the Judges with 20 points, hitting 7-of-11 from the field, including 6-of-9 from beyond the arc, despite missing the final few minutes of the game. D'Aguanno added 14 points off the bench on 4-of-8 from the floor, 2-of-5 from deep and 4-of-5 from the line. Sabir had a terrific all-around game with eight points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocked shots. Hagerty added six points, a game-high nine rebounds, and three assists. Brandeis outrebounded Bates, 39-31, and hit 13 3-pointers – including 7-of-10 in the second half – while the Bobcats had just five trifectas, going 1-of-10 in the final 20 minutes.
Bates had three players score in double figures, Jeff Spellman and Omar Sarr with 17 points apiece, while Stephon Baxter had 11. Sarr led the visitors with eight rebounds, while Spellman matched Sabir's game-highs with six assists and three steals. The Bobcats shot 52% from the field in the first half (15-29) but just 30% in the second (9-30). The visitors also owned an 18-10 edge in points off turnovers despite committing 17 to the Judges' 14.
Brandeis will look for their best 12-game start since the 2012-13 season when they head to NYU on Saturday for their University Athletic Association (UAA) opener at 3 p.m. Bates also starts conference play at Wesleyan on Sunday at 1 p.m. in a NESCAC tilt.