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Men’s basketball splits final homestand

After a rough couple of away games, the Brandeis men’s basketball team returned home for a two-game homestand against Washington University (WashU) and the University of Chicago. The first one came against WashU on Feb. 10. Last year the two teams faced off twice. In the first game, WashU got the better of the Judges as they won 67-53. However, in the second matchup of the season, the Judges beat WashU 84-65 in a late-season game. 

This year looked like it was once again going to be a tough one as WashU got off to an 8-0 run to start the game. The Judges were held scoreless for nearly five minutes before sophomore center Griffin Walbridge ’25 got an offensive rebound and sent it right back for a layup with the foul. He sank his free throw and the Judges were officially on the board. Walbridge scored the next two points as well before senior guard Dylan Lien ’23 had a few points of his own. Brandeis was trying to keep up but WashU kept making 3-pointers that made it difficult for the Judges to make a comeback. With seven minutes to go in the half, Brandeis was down 10 points. Guard Ethan Edwards ’26 made a big 3-pointer and it seemed like maybe the tides were changing. Edwards then followed his big shot with a layup and all the sudden the score was 21-26. The game remained scoreless for a few minutes before Edwards and senior guard Darret Justice ’23 made huge shots to cut the deficit to just one. WashU looked like they were going to pull away again before Lien scored seven straight points for the Judges as the two teams were tied 32-32 going into halftime. 

The second half started quickly as both teams traded 3-pointers. WashU took the lead but Brandeis kept it close. At one point, WashU looked like they were going to take off, but Edwards stopped that momentum with a 3-pointer.  With under 10 minutes to go, the Judges were down 47-54. Then sophomore Toby Harris ’25 scored eight consecutive points and suddenly the score was 55-56. After the two teams traded shots, the Judges were down by just one point with under three minutes to go. Unfortunately, Brandeis could not get anything going offensively during the last few minutes, while WashU went on a 11-0 run. This was too much to overcome and the Judges ultimately fell to WashU 65-73. 

It was a tough defensive battle between these two teams. Brandeis held WashU to their second lowest scoring game of the season. Lien was the Judges leading scorer as he had 17 points from the bench. Edwards and Harris both had 15 points to be the teams next leading scorers. Harris also led the team in rebounds with nine. Overall, WashU outshot the Judges with a 51.9% field goal percentage compared to Brandeis’ 40%.

The Judges looked to bounce back and snap a six-game losing streak against Chicago two days later. This game was also Brandeis’ Senior Day. Last year, the Judges also faced Chicago two times. In their January matchup, Brandeis defeated Chicago 62-47, however close to a month later, Chicago narrowly beat them 75-78. 

This game looked like it was going to be a defensive battle as both teams combined to score four points within the first four minutes of the game. After seven minutes, Brandeis had only scored two points. Things started to look up after junior guard Ryan Power ’24 made a 3-pointer to get the offense going. From there, the two teams traded baskets as neither team could not build a significant lead. With less than 10 minutes to go in the first half, the game was tied 12-12. After a big 3-pointer from Harris with less than three minutes to go, it seemed like maybe the Judges would pull away. But again the offense slowed down and at halftime the score was 26-25 with Brandeis having the slight edge. At halftime, neither team was shooting the ball particularly well. Brandeis was shooting 33.3% from the field, while Chicago was only slightly better with a 35.7% field goal percentage. Both teams were also shooting below 30% from 3-point range. Harris was the Judges leading scorer with eight points. 

Chicago started the second half strong with eight straight points. The Judges proceeded to take a timeout and then go on a 12-4 run of their own. They retook the lead with under 14 minutes to go after Harris made another 3-pointer. For the next few minutes it seemed like whenever one team scored, the other would immediately answer. So with less than 10 minutes remaining, the game was tied 42-42. Then both teams went relatively silent on offense as the defenses played very well. Neither team could score beyond a few free throws. Guard Jake Bender ’26 helped the Judges finally break through after making a tough layup with the foul. Brandeis was up 49-46 with only a few minutes remaining. Chicago later tied the game again. Then Harris made the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:20 remaining in the game. That ended up being too much for Chicago to overcome, as they committed fouls to the end game and Brandeis made their free throws. The Judges ended up breaking their six-game skid with a 58-52 win on Senior Day against Chicago. 

Brandeis got the win but had a lower shooting percentage. The team shot 32.8% from the field, while Chicago shot 41.2%. Both teams shot under 30% from the 3-point range. The key difference between the two teams came from the turnovers. Chicago had 20 turnovers in the game, while the Judges had just eight. Brandeis had nine steals in two blocks in the game. Harris was the team’s leading scorer with 21 points, while also adding 10 rebounds to give him his third double-double of the season. Power had an all-around solid game with eight points, three rebounds, two assists and four steals off the bench. It was a great defensive win for the team’s last home game of the season. 

Overall, Brandeis is 12-10 and 4-7 in conference games. The Judges will next play at the University of Rochester on Feb. 17 and at Emory University on Feb. 19. Last year, Brandeis beat Rochester 66-61 and lost 50-55 in the second matchup. Against Emory, the Judges lost 75-83 and 80-86 in their two matchups.

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