By Matt Noonan
WALTHAM, MA – Brandeis University’s men’s basketball team held a one-point lead for roughly one minute during the opening minutes of the first half.
Yet, once their advantage was erased, Washington University padded their lead with multiple layups and foul shots, which helped the Bears defeat the Judges on Sunday afternoon at the Red Auerbach Arena, 76-60.
“I’m just really disappointed that our effort was subpar,” Brandeis coach Brian Meehan said, whose team falls to 17-7 overall and 8-5 in University Athletic Association play.
“We gave a great effort out at their place and the fact that we came here and we were really flat, (and) I didn’t think we played with much emotion, we really dug ourselves a hole (and) it’s just really a disappointing loss for me.”
Sunday’s game was the complete opposite from their first meeting this season, as Brandeis converted one less shot from the field and turned the ball over three more times. They also struggled on the offensive boards, and recorded six less caroms.
“We just didn’t come out with enough energy (and) we weren’t ready to play,” Brandeis’ Jay Freeman explained. “WashU is a good team and they got the best of us today.”
The Brandeis offense missed three consecutive shots following the opening tap before Gabriel Moton registered his first layup of the day. Moton also sank a shot from the stripe before the Bears jumped ahead literally a minute later on an Alan Aboona jumper.
Ben Hoener and Chris Klimek extended WashU’s lead to 14-6, but Brandeis answered with a 7-0 run that featured two back-to-back triples by Moton and Ruben Kanya, and one free throw by Youri Dascy, which brought the Judges within one with 6:13 remaining in the first stanza.
Brandeis’ momentum faded, though, as Klimeck sparked a 20-10 run for WashU, which provided the Bears with a 34-23 lead at the break.
“We were taking contested shots (during that first half),” said Meehan. “I didn’t think we played physical. They smashed us on the glass in the first half and out at their place we competed and I think they won by one rebound in the battle, and we really dominated the boards in the second half out there, but it was a real effort game and we just didn’t have the effort (today).
“It’s just really a disappointing loss because we needed a win here and a win next week to give ourselves a shot at the tournament, so it’s a little disappointing.”
Freeman helped the Judges trim the deficit once the second half commenced with layups and two 3-pointers, but the Bears responded on numerous ensuing possessions.
And despite trailing WashU by six with 12:47 remaining, the Bears ended up closing the gap with layups from Hoener and Tim Cooney, along with two free throws by Robert Burnett to seal the win for the visitors.
“We all know we never fold and fight hard to the end,” Freeman said of his team’s motto when trailing. “And that’s what we try to do.”
Hoener led all players with 25 points, while Dascy paced the Judges with 17 points and eight rebounds. Freeman finished with 12 points, while Moton added 11 points.
“We just didn’t do anything that we needed to do,” said Meehan. “WashU did a very good job, they played their game, but I thought physically they played harder. I thought execution-wise they did a better job (and) they just beat us in every facet of the game.”
Despite the setback, Brandeis will look to finish their season with a win next Saturday when they travel to New York University for a 3:30 p.m. tip.