Slow starts continue to plague Judges

December 2, 2011

Behind an explosive first-half performance and a strong effort from their bench players, Clark University thrashed the visiting Brandeis Judges 74-55 in a non-UAA conference matchup this past Tuesday.

The loss snaps the Judges’ seven-game winning streak against Clark, which started in the 2001-02 season. The loss also denied Clark University alum Brian Meehan, the Judges’ head coach, his 300th career win.

The two teams were evenly matched for the first five minutes of play with the score knotted at 10-10. The Cougars proceeded to go on a 16-6 run over the next nine minutes, however, to take complete control of the game. The scoring binge included three-pointers from junior guard John Karas and senior guard Travis Curley, as well as a pair of transition layups from senior forward Brian Vayda.

The Judges staved off some of the Cougars’ momentum with the long ball as guard Derek Retos ’14 drained three from beyond the arc in the first half with the last one cutting the Clark lead to 41-33 with less than a minute remaining in the first half. Senior Mitch Renshaw scored four more points in the first half, however, to push the Cougar’s lead to 12 at 45-33.

The Cougars further increased their lead to 50-35 in the opening moments of the second half after Curley scored, stealing the ball and knocking down a three-pointer just two minutes into the second half.

The Judges cut the deficit back to 12 at 50-38 after an and-1 by forward Alex Schmidt ’14 with a little less than 15 minutes remaining in the game; however, the Cougars put the game away after a dunk from senior forward D.J. Bailey increased their lead to 20. Bailey slammed it down after an excellent pass from senior guard Drew Billington. Bailey was fouled going down with the ball and subsequently converted the free throw to put the Cougars ahead 70-50 with 4:38 left in the contest.

Clark shot a sensational 67 percent from the field in the first half (18-of-27) and finished the game at 52 percent (29-of-56), while the Judges made just 51 percent of their shots for the game (22-for-43). The Cougars had a season-high 20 assists on their 29 baskets with Billington dishing out a career-high nine. Perhaps the biggest difference of the game was the play of each team’s bench. Clark’s bench outscored the Brandeis reserves 34-8. The Cougars also converted 14 Brandeis turnovers into 15 points.

Curley finished the game with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting and Renshaw added a season-best 14 points off the bench while Bailey rounded out the Cougar players in double digits with 13 points in just 16 minutes of play. For the first time all season, Vayda did not reach double figures; however, he stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, a game-high eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 25 minutes of play.

Retos led Brandeis with 17 points including a 4-of-7 performance from downtown. Forward Ishmael Kalilou ’15 finished with a career-best 11 points in his first collegiate start while center Youri Dascy ’14 added 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Earlier in the week, the Judges fell to visiting Rhode Island College 61-50 as the Judges committed an astounding 26 turnovers, a season-high.

Retos scored a game-high 18 points with nine coming in each half. Retos hit 6-of-12 from downtown and is now shooting a sensational 52.4 percent from downtown on the season. Forward Vytas Kriskus ’12 added eight points of the bench. The Judges finished with a 35-32 advantage on the boards with 10 coming from Dascy and nine from Schmidt.

Rhode Island College had three different players in double figures. Senior forward Mason Choice led the Anchormen with 14 points, eight of which came in the first half while junior guard Tahrike Carter added 12 points and senior center Mike Akinrola chipped in 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds off of the bench.

While forcing Brandeis into 26 turnovers, the Anchormen only committed nine turnovers en route to a 29-4 advantage in points off of turnovers. Rhode Island College also held the advantage on the offensive glass, 17-10, and turned the second chances into 18 points compared to just five for the Judges.

The two teams played a competitive game for the first 10 minutes of play with Rhode Island College ahead just one, 13-12, at the 10:27 mark. The Anchormen, however, would go on their first big run of the game outscoring Brandeis 15-3 in the next six and a half minutes. Choice had six points for the Anchormen during the run while sophomore guard Avery King chipped in five as the visitors held Brandeis to 1-of-5 shooting, with five turnovers during the run. With the lead at 28-15 and 3:52 remaining in the first half, the Judges went on a mini-run to cut the lead to 10, 35-25, after center Wouter van der Eng ’13 put back a missed shot just before the buzzer.

Rhode Island College pushed the lead back to 12 at the start of the second half after a basket from Choice; however, Brandeis then made its best run of the game. The Judges went on a 13-2 run during the next five minutes of play that included two more three-pointers from Retos and a pair of buckets from guard Tyrone Hughes ’12 to cut the Clark lead to 39-36 with 14:40 remaining in the game. Akinrola scored for the Anchormen out of a timeout and the visitors twice pushed their lead back up to six. Facing a 47-41 deficit, the Judges scored the next five points, with three coming from guard Ruben Kanya ’14 after he was fouled on a three-point attempt and two coming off of a Kriskus jumper, thereby pulling the Judges within one with 8:57 left in the game. The Judges were unable to sustain further offensive success, however, as the Anchormen closed the game on a 14-4 run. The Judges didn’t help their cause, committing six turnovers and allowing the visitors to grab six offensive rebounds down the stretch.

The Judges will return to action Saturday when they visit Salem State for a 3 p.m. matchup in the third annual New England Big Four challenge. Meehan will once again go for win number 300 against the team he coached for his first 160 wins.

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