Jeffs Drop Second of the Season with 73-58 Loss to Brandeis

Brian Baskauskas scored 14 points in the loss;
He is just two points shy of 1,000 for his career.

AMHERST, MA – The 9th-ranked Amherst College men’s basketball team played host to regional non-conference rival Brandeis University this evening in what has become one of the most anticipated annual match-ups in New England. For the second year in a row, Brandeis topped Amherst in the regular season with a 73-58 win. Last season, the Lord Jeffs avenged the regular-season loss with an Elite Eight win, and can only hope to do so again in 2009.

Amherst started the game with a long half-court possession, before working the ball inside to senior co-captain Mike Holsey (Potomac, MD) for a score in traffic. Brandeis answered back with a deep three from Steve DeLuca. After a pair of Terrell Hollins free throws, Amherst point guard Conor Meehan (Meriden, CT) used his height advantage on a put-back to tie the game 4-4.

With 14:57 to play, Amherst worked the ball inside, before reversing through four players for a three from junior Steven Wheeler (Bloomington, MN). The Judges regained the lead at 10-9 with 13:05 to play on a three from Kevin Olson. After a free throw from rookie Jeff Holmes (Saunderstown, RI) tied the game at 10-10, Amherst forced a shot-clock violation from the Judges.

At the nine minute mark, senior Marcus Bradley (Latham, NY) put Amherst up 15-13 on a three from the right wing. Olson answered back for the Judges with a triple of his own one minute later. Amherst rookie Taylor Barrise (Allendale, NJ) tied the game at 18-18 on a three from the top of the key, before DeLuca made a reverse lay-in to put Brandeis up 20-18 with just over six minutes remaining in the half.

On back-to-back possessions, Meehan scored in the post and then kicked to Wheeler for a jumper after backing down the much smaller Andre Roberson. With just 3:20 to play in the half, Barrise tied the game at 25-apiece on another three from the right wing.

Amherst senior co-captain Brian Baskauskas (Palo Alto, CA) put the Jeffs up 29-27 with 40 seconds to play in the half. After a Brandeis timeout, Baskauskas poked the ball away from Kenny Small and went down the court un-contested for a two-handed slam. The dunk put the Jeffs up 31-27 with 17 seconds to play, ensuring Amherst would take a lead into the break. Small scored to finish the half, leaving the Jeffs up just two points at the half.

At the half, Amherst’s Barrise, Baskauskas and Meehan each had six points, while Small led the Judges with nine points.

Amherst started the second half with a triple from Wheeler to open up a 34-29 lead. The two sides traded scores before a pair of Baskauskas free throws put Amherst up 40-38 with 13:36 to play. With 10:39 to play in the second half, Brandeis regained the lead 44-42 with a pair of Napoleon Lherisson free throws. On the next possession Barrise score inside for Amherst, tying the game back up.

A pair of free throws from Roberson put Brandeis up 48-44 with just over eight minutes to play in the second half, before an Amherst turnover resulted in a score from the Judges’ Christian Yemga. Moments later, Yemga finished off a three-point play to put Brandeis up 53-44.

Amherst cut the deficit down to 55-48 on a drive and score from rookie David Waller (Tampa, FL) as the student section of Lord Jeff Nation came alive. On the next possession, DeLuca buried a triple for Brandeis to put the Judges back up 58-48; the score proved a killer to Amherst’s momentum.

The Brandeis lead grew to 61-50 on another three from DeLuca, his third of the night. With three and a half minutes to play, DeLuca made a tough basket in traffic to open up a 13-point lead. The two sides traded free throws, and with 2:06 to play Brandeis called a timeout leading 64-52.

Down the stretch, Amherst was unable to score down the stretch, while the Judges continued to knock down free throws. The final score rang in at 73-58 in favor of Brandeis. Baskauskas finished the night with a team-high 14 points and seven rebounds, while Wheeler added ten points. At game's end, Baskauskas was left just two points shy of scoring his 1,000th career, and will likely do so early into Amherst's next game.

DeLuca was the difference for Brandeis as he scored a game-high 23 points, and pulled down 12 rebounds. Small and Olson joined DeLuca in double-figure, combining for 23 points.

Amherst dropped just its second game of the season with the loss, moving to 13-2 on the year, while Brandeis improves to 9-5. The Lord Jeffs will take the road for their next seven games, starting Saturday at Trinity for a 2 p.m. game.