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Men’s basketball begins tough journey into conference play

By Charlie Romanow

Section: Featured, Sports

January 17, 2014

The men’s basketball team had two close games last week that showcased the skills of the team’s talented seniors.

The Judges’ final non-conference game of the season was an 83-78 win at home versus Bates College on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Despite six ties and 11 lead changes, the seemingly close game was controlled by the victors as Bates’ largest lead of the game was merely two points.

Brandeis ran away early, scoring 14 consecutive points after Bates led by one to push the Judges ahead 32-19. The Bobcats were about to head into halftime with a lead after Graham Safford made two consecutive three-pointers, but a dunk by guard Ben Bartoldus ’14 and buzzer-beating three by guard Derek Retos ’14 gave the home team a 43-40 halftime advantage. Bates managed to fight back into the game due to Safford’s 15 first half points including three successes from beyond the arc.

The Judges had a six-point lead early in the second half but faced early resistance as the Bobcats led by one with 12:32 remaining. Center Youri Dascy ’14 subsequently made a lay-up to spring the team on a 13-2 run before Safford led Bates on a 13-3 run to tie the game at 71 with 3:55 remaining. Safford scored nine points during this run and recorded assists on the other two shots. The Judges closed the game from the free-throw line making 10 of 12 in the final four minutes. Both teams shot equally well, but Brandeis differentiated themselves by earning and converting more trips to the free-throw line, making 20 of 27. Brandeis’ victory was also characterized by the array of contributions from the players, as opposed to being led by a single force as Bates was.

Retos led the winners with 18 points off the bench, including four from beyond three and 6-6 on free throws. Bartoldus had 16 points, 13 coming in the first half as he shot 5-10 overall and a perfect 5-5 from the charity stripe. Guard Gabriel Moton ’14 had 13 points, and forward Alex Stoyle ’14 added 12, all of which came in the beginning of the halves. Dascy had seven rebounds in 11 minutes. Forward Kevin Trotman ’16 led with three blocks. Safford had a career-high 33 points on 13-21 shooting, as well as a game-high six assists. Mike Boornazian had 16 points and a game-high ten rebounds and Billy Selmon scored in double digits while leading with five steals.

The Bobcats are 8-4 after their conference opening win at Middlebury College.

The Judges lost a close 64-58 game at New York University on Saturday in each team’s first conference game of the season. Both teams’ played well in the first half, but the Judges’ late offensive struggles allowed NYU to take the final lead.

Brandeis shot 48 percent in the first half and an astounding 8-13 beyond the arc, five of which were by Retos. Retos scored all 15 of his points in the first half. Nine of his points came during the team’s late halftime run that had them leading 36-34 at intermission after a five-point deficit. Bartoldus had eight points in the first. Despite the lead, NYU outrebounded their opponents 19-10 early on and shot 52 percent from the floor.

The Judges’ early success from three-point range would fizzle in the second half, allowing the more conservative-shooting Violets to take over the game. Brandeis’ largest lead was by eight with nearly 12 minutes remaining. They would convert on only one field goal after this point though, ending the game with eight consecutive misses. The Violets took advantage of their opponent’s drought eventually taking the lead with 5:51 left on an Alec Papesch layup. This propelled the team on a 9-2 run with successful shots and free throws by both Evan Kupferberg and Max Ralby. Kupferberg led the second half with ten points. Brandeis was only 6-24 in the second half and 2-9 from three. The Judges’ early rebounding struggles were mended in the second half with an additional 18 boards, but were outdone by NYU’s 22 rebound half.

Retos, Bartoldus and Moton each reached double-digit scoring. Ishmael Kalilou led the team with six rebounds. Moton contributed five assists and a game-high three steals. Forward Youri Dascy ’15 played only 13 minutes but led all players with three blocks as well as adding five rebounds. Bartoldus shot 50 percent from three and was 5-9 overall. Kupferberg led the game with 18 points and eight rebounds on a 7-12 shooting night. Costis Gontikas and Iyoha Agho each scored 10 points.

NYU shot 44 percent through the game, and Brandeis shot 37 percent. Brandeis had the largest lead of the game at eight points. NYU nearly doubled the Judges’ totals in second chance points and points in the paint.

During the game, the co-captain Retos moved into third place on Brandeis’ all-time three-point scoring list. He needs only 22 more this season to break Steve Harrington’s record set in 1992. He is also on-pace to break the school’s all-time record for free-throw percentage after shooting 6-6 from the line against Bates. He is shooting 92.5 percent through his career, significantly ahead of Kevin Olson’s school-record 84.6 percent period from 2006-2009. Retos did not have any free-throw opportunities in the game against NYU. He is second in school history behind Olson in career three-point field goal percentage.

NYU will head west to play UAA foe University of Chicago on Friday while Brandeis will visit the 10-2 seventh-ranked Washington University in St. Louis on Friday. All conference teams were above .500 heading into conference play, which signifies a series of difficult battles in Brandeis and the other UAA teams’ schedules. Brandeis is 8-4, and NYU is 11-1.

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