Basketball season is back, as the Brandeis University men’s basketball team opened up the 2019-2020 season against the 16th-ranked Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) Engineers. The Judges are coming off a turn around year where they went on to win the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) championship in the postseason. They battled against their ranked opponent but were not quite able to gain the upper hand, as they lost 55-46 on the Engineers home court.
WPI came out of the gates firing going on to score 12 of the game’s first 14 points to take a 12-2 lead. With about 15:50 to go in the first half, WPI still held a 10 point lead. The Judges’ defense kicked to spark a 12-0 run that would give them their first lead of the game, 16-14 off of a three pointer by Dylan Lien ’23 with 8:13 on the clock. However, Brandeis was not able to sustain its lead, as the Engineers would respond with a 8-0 run of their own. WPI would not give up the lead the rest of the game, as they went up 31-20 by halftime. To close out the first half, Kyle Downing ’22 had five points, while Chander Jones ’21 and Nolan Hagerty ’20 added four each.
In the second half, the Judges made a run in order to cut the lead to 33-28 to get back into the game off of a four point play conversion by Lawrence Sabir ’21 with 17:02 to play. Again, WPI responded with a 6-2 run to push their lead back up to nine, 39-30 with 13 minutes remaining. Brandeis would not go away easily as they went on a 10-2 run over the course of the next five minutes as Lein and Collin Sawyer ’20 each hit three pointers on the run, while Jones added a jumper to get the Judges within 41-39. However, the Judges were not able to capitalize as the Engineers would score the next seven points of the game, holding off the Judges for their first win of the season. Sawyer would lead the way for the Judges with 10 points and six rebounds, nine of his 10 coming in the second half. Jones had a nice all around game with seven points, 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Lien would lead all bench scorers with nine. Brandeis had the edge in rebounds, 36-33 but WPI was able to force the Judges into 24 turnovers while committing only 11 of their own. The Engineers would also outscore Brandeis at the free throw line, 18-9.
After the fall to WPI, the team headed up to Nashua, New Hampshire to take on the Raiders of Rivier College, looking for a win in the second non-conference matchup of the season. The team was lead by Jones, who played exceptionally well on the offensive end. With 25 points and 17 rebounds, Jones reached two new career highs to help Brandeis to a 91-56 win. After the game, the Judges improve to 1-1 on the season.
The first half was a bit slower for the Judges, as it was not until late that Brandeis formed its 11 point lead. To begin, Rivier led 18-15 just halfway through the first portion of play. However, the Judges picked up steam and began to pull away, as they went on a 24-10 run to lead the Raiders heading into the second half. After this, the Brandeis completely stole the show, building up a 20 point lead over the hosts right after halftime. The Judges would never trail again, ultimately sealing their win by a 35 point margin.
Along with Jones’ impressive night, classmates and co-captains Eric D’Aguanno ’20 and Sawyer shot well, having 20 and 17 points respectively. The duo made eight of 17 from behind the arc, and also completed four assists. Off the bench, Lien added in seven points, while Austin Clamage ’21 contributed five. The Judges’ reserves outscored those from Rivier 41-27 overall.
As a team, Brandeis shot 52.9 percent from the field and 44.4 percent from three compared to the Raiders’ 28.3 and 30.4 percent respectively. The Judges shared the ball well with 17 assists, and also were consistent at the free throw line with a make percentage of 73.5. The win at Rivier was second-year head coach Jean Bain’s largest margin of victory since coming to Brandeis, as well as his team’s highest scoring game.
The Judges return to the court next Monday, Nov. 18th to take on Emerson College in their home opener.