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Men’s basketball wins home opener and drops one on the road

The Brandeis University men’s basketball team had fans on the edge of their seats in their home opener in Auerbach Arena as they hosted the Emerson Lions. It came down to the wire for a second year in a row, as last year Brandeis defeated the Lions on their home floor thanks to a Corey Sherman ’19 three pointer with 0.9 seconds left to win the game, 75-72. 

This time around, Collin Sawyer ’20 was the hero as he scored the game-winning layup with 1.1 seconds remaining in regulation, giving the Judges a 76-74 victory. Sawyer would lead the way for the Judges with 21 points, going 8-16 from the field, 4-7 from deep, with one free throw that came off of a four point play that capped an 8-0 run to open the second half. It was a balanced attack for the Judges as three other players reached double figures in scoring with 13 apiece. 

Lawrence Sabir ’21 and Chandler Jones ’21 each had 13 in the starting lineup, while off the bench it was Eric D’Aguanno ’20 who also added 13, including two three-pointers, giving him 199 for his career. D’Aguanno will look to become the fourth player in Brandeis program history to reach 200 career trifectas. Sabir had a great overall game, stuffing the stat sheet with five rebounds, six assists and three steals. Nolan Haggerty ’22 led the Judges with eight rebounds.

The Judges looked like they were going to blow things open in the first half as they hit 17 of their first 24 shots from field to take a 42-21 lead. However, the Judges could not keep up the hot streak as Emerson would close on a 17-4 run going into the half. In the second half, Brandeis would again find their rhythm as they scored the first eight points. But again the visitors would respond after a Sabir three pointer that pushed the lead to 17, the Lions would come roaring back scoring the next 10 points of the game to get it within single digits. 

Emerson would take advantage of another 10-2 run to get to within 62-60, but the Judges would lock in defensively and answer offensively, scoring seven of the next nine points to push their lead back to seven off a Haggerty put back with 3:45 remaining. The teams would trade baskets back and forth, but a couple key plays down the stretch, including a Judges offensive foul and a Lions trifecta, allowed the Lions to get within one at 73-72 with 1:26 left. 

Jones would get it done on the defensive end, as he drew an offensive foul near midcourt with 14.1 on the clock to give the Judges the ball back with a chance to pull ahead. The Lions were forced to foul, sending D’Aguanno to the line where he would hit one of two to make it 72-74 with 13 seconds remaining. Off the miss, the Lions were off and running. They were able to draw a foul going to the line with a chance to even things up with 7.5 on the clock. The Emerson player would knock down the clutch free throws with ease, setting up the final play for the Judges. 

With no timeouts left, the Judges pushed the ball down the floor, as D’Aguanno drove down the lane looking to make a pass which was kicked, giving Brandeis the ball on the baseline with 2.8 left. Sabir would take it out just under the basket, where Sawyer would take advantage of an Emerson defender cutting right to the basket as he turned his head, laying it up for the game winner.

The Judges were back in action on Wednesday night as they went on the road to play Suffolk but were not able to sustain their hot shooting from Monday night’s game as they fell 72-57. With the loss, the Judges fall to 2-2 on the season, while the Rams improve to 3-1. Suffolk would score the first eight points of the game and would not trail again for the rest of the half. The Judges were held scoreless until about five minutes into the contest when Sawyer hit a three pointer to get Brandeis on the board. 

The Judges would get things going, coming out in the second half as Sabir and Sawyer scored the first two baskets to give Brandeis their first lead of the game, 33-32. The Rams would come down and hit a three in the next possession to reclaim the lead for good. The Judges would get it back to within one on a Dylan Lien ’23 trifecta that made it 39-38 with 16:34 left, however again the Rams would respond by scoring the game’s next 10 points to seal the victory. 

Brandeis was led by Sawyer’s 19 points, hitting 6-15 from the field, 4-8 from deep and 3-4 from the free throw line. Sabir added 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. D’Aguanno added seven points off the bench, including one three-pointer, giving him his 200th trifecta of his career. He becomes the fourth player in school history to reach the mark, tying Mark Peabody ’89. Jones led the Judges with seven rebounds and four assists.

Men’s basketball was also in the news this week as Chandler Jones ’21 was honored as a University Athletic Association (UAA) Athlete of the Week for his performance. Jones led the Judges to a 91-56 win over Rivier College in their only game of the week. However, he was dominant establishing career highs with 25 points and 17 rebounds. He reached his eighth career double double by halftime, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. His rebound total was the most for a Brandeis player since Latye Workman ’18 M.A. ’19 had 18 rebounds in a game in December of 2017.

Brandeis will return to action on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. against Rhode Island College.

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