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Men’s Basketball suffers disappointing end to season

By Charlie Romanow

Section: Sports

February 28, 2013

The men’s basketball team had a disappointing final week of games with losses to Washington University and New York University on Feb. 17 and Feb. 24. The Judges had beaten both teams last month but were not able to continue the hot streak to salvage an NCAA tournament berth. Brandeis lost 76-60 to the Washington University Bears and 59-57 to the NYU Violets.

The final game against the Violets pitted the 14-10 NYU team against the 17-7 Judges in New York. As Brandeis’ last game of the regular season, there was a lot of pressure on the team to win and increase their chances of a postseason bid. The Judges did come back from a large halftime deficit but were not able to make up completely for the first-half shortfall. The team was led by Gabriel Moton ’14 who put up 14 points and a game-high six assists. Youri Dascy ’14 led the team with eight rebounds as well as 11 points. First-year Kevin Trotman had a career-high nine points.

While down by 10 early in the second half, the Judges were able to keep the game within reach for most of the duration. After a 10-point deficit, Trotman came up with five quick points and a 3-pointer by Moton brought Brandeis within two. The Violets came back strong reinforcing the lead before the Judges were able to take the lead with nearly five minutes left. Only three points were made in total by the two teams in the last two minutes. This cold streak left the Judges on the wrong side of the loss, with an unsuccessful last chance attempt with 0.4 seconds left.

As is the trend during the last few weeks, the Brandeis team was about even with its opponents in the main statistical categories. The Judges were not as successful in the paint, but shot better from beyond the arc as compared to NYU. Brandeis led the Violets in bench scoring by a margin of 20-7. What cost Brandeis the game was most likely the 10-18 performance from the free throw line with a couple of more successes from the line giving the Judges the lead or sending the game into overtime.

NYU’s strong duo of Devin Karch and Cory Stockmal each had 19 points with Karch contributing six rebounds and Stockmal eight. The Judges have struggled in shooting efficiently during the past few games, failing to shoot above 40 percent in their final four games. The Judges leave the weekend 17-8 overall and 8-6 in the UAA, while NYU leaves 15-10 overall and 5-9 in conference.

The game against 17th-ranked Washington University was not as close as the NYU game. The Judges lost their Senior Day matchup 76-60 at home. The home team was unable to shoot effectively during the first half, which they left with an 11-point deficit. Brandeis shot only 27.6 percent from the field in the first and only 18.2 percent from 3-point range. These numbers rose to 40.6 percent and 33.3 percent in the second half. Brandeis moved a bit closer to the Bears at the start of the second but was not able to maintain enough momentum to catch up to Washington University. The Bears’ largest lead of the game came to 19 points.

Scoring double digits on the Brandeis side, Moton put up 11, Freeman, 12, and Dascy led the team with 17. Dascy also contributed eight rebounds while Moton had six assists. The Bears’ lead in rebounding continued against Brandeis, out rebounding the Judges 43-30. Washington University’s Ben Hoener led the game with 25 points, while Chris Klimek and Alan Aboona put up 14 and 10, respectively. Matt Palucki led the game with an impressive 12 rebounds.

While having moments of success, the Judges were unable to play consistently well during the entire game, a problem that has surfaced and resurfaced numerous times this season. Brandeis left the game 17-7 overall and 8-5 in conference before heading off to New York. The Bears left the game 19-5 overall and 9-4 in the UAA. Washington University finished their regular season at home against the University of Chicago with a decisive win that left the team with an automatic postseason bid and the 22nd ranking in the country—although they were tied with 13th-ranked Rochester and Emory at 10-4 in conference play. All three teams are advancing to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Coach Brian Meehan believes that the team was in a good place for a postseason bid but was not able to step up and make that extra step.

“We are obviously very disappointed. We felt we had positioned ourselves well for post season selections but came up just shy. We can point to injuries and sickness late in the season but the truth of the matter is we still had enough talent to win the games we needed but we just didn’t step [up] when the time came,” Meehan said.

“As we move forward to next season I believe we need to change the culture of the team quite a bit and focus on working harder and [making] a big commitment to individual improvement of each player,” Meehan added.

The NCAA tournament will begin on Saturday. Two of the Judges’ early season competitors, 16th-ranked Rhode Island College and 2nd-ranked Amherst College have each earned bids to the tournament.

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