The Judges entered last week ranked 25th in the country, but were upset in Cleveland, Ohio and needed to come from behind in Pittsburgh to go 1–1 for the weekend.

Spartans 84, Judges 76

The Judges fell to the Case Western Reserve University Spartans on Friday, Feb. 7 in a disappointing result of 84–76 against a team they defeated just seven days prior.

The host Spartans scored the game’s first four points on a pair of layups in the game’s second minute. Collin Sawyer ’20 put Brandeis on the board eight seconds later, and then Sam Nassar ’22 tied the game at four. Case Western responded with a 17–6 run to take a commanding 11-point lead nine minutes into the contest. The Judges struggled to cut into the lead for the rest of the half, trailing 35–22 before a 9–4 run enabled them to enter the break within single digits.

The team’s best stretch of the game arrived at the outset of the second half when they went on a 13–5 run, due in part to a three-point play by Sawyer and a three-point jumper by Dylan Lien ’23. Having tied the game at 44, the Judges allowed four straight points, only to respond by taking their first lead of the game on consecutive threes by Eric D’Aguanno ’20 and Austin Clamage ’21. With this basket, D’Aguanno became the Judges’ all-time leader in career three pointers. 

It was back and forth for the next two minutes until a three-pointer by the Spartans’ Ignas Masiulionis put the home team up by four. A three by Lien got the Judges back within one at 60–59 with 8:48 to go, but Brandeis struggled mightily from that point on. After the judges were held scoreless for a remarkable five straight minutes, a Nolan Hagerty ’22 free throw made it 70–60 with three and a half minutes left. Chandler Jones ’21 scored a layup at 2:25 to make it 73–67, and then Sawyer answered a Spartans’ layup come within five while the Judges had 72 seconds to work with. The dagger came when Case Western Reserve penetrated an aggressive Judges defense to knock down a three in the corner with just 46 seconds on the clock. The Spartans made enough free throws down the stretch to hold the Judges off despite another three pointer by Lien.

Sawyer led the Judges with 22 points on 7–11 shooting, while D’Aguanno and Lien scored 12 and 11, respectively. Jones and D’Aguanno led the team with six rebounds and Jones pitched in four assists. The Judges shot just 27–62 from the field as a team.

Judges 77, Tartans 70

On Sunday, Brandeis took down the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans, but needed a second-half rally to do so.

The game started in a remarkably unremarkable fashion, with the game’s first 22 points all coming off two-point field goals, resulting in a 12–10 Tartans lead. After staying tied at two, four, six and 13, Carnegie Mellon pulled ahead 20–14 on a three-point shot by Daniel Weiss. The hosts led by as much as eight, before Sawyer connected from deep for Brandeis’ first successful three-in-10 attempts. Jones followed with another triple, but a frustrating first-half for the Judges was punctuated when Nassar uncharacteristically turned the ball over, leading to a Carnegie Mellon three-pointer in the waning seconds of the period, a potential five (or six) point swing as the Judges had been in possession with the shot clock turned off. The Judges were in a perilous position at the break, trailing 36–29 against a team that had just lost to a New York University side previously 0–7 in the UAA. Having experienced their most unexpected loss of the season on Friday, the Judges had 20 minutes to prevent their successful season from derailing in 48 hours.

Brandeis responded by scoring six times on their first five second-half possessions. On the fifth, Hagerty missed his second free throw only for Jones to draw a foul on the ensuing rebound, leading to a jumper by Sawyer. This capped a 12–2 run to open the second half, which put the Judges ahead 41–38. Carnegie Mellon would draw level at 43 before buckets by Clamage and D’Aguanno gave the Judges their largest lead to that point. After a Carnegie Mellon three brought them back within one, the Judges scored eight straight points following a timeout to lead 55–46 with 11:52 left in regulation. Brandeis went on to outscore their opponents 37–17 from halftime to 7:54 remaining in the game. 

The underdog Tartans recovered and kept themselves in the game late, missing a chance to come within six points from the free throw line at the 95-second mark. Still down only 72–65 with well over a minute remaining, Carnegie Mellon made a puzzling decision to foul D’Aguanno, one of the Judges’ better free throw shooters, in the hope that he might miss the front end of a one and one. Instead, the experienced sixth man calmly converted both free throws to put his team in a very comfortable position. After the Tartans hit a layup, they elected not to foul, allowing Brandeis to run down the shot clock on their next possession. The Judges came up empty but maintained a seven-point lead with 31 seconds to go. The persistent hosts used a three-point play to make it 74–70 while preserving all but three seconds of the clock. They immediately fouled Nassar, but the sophomore nailed two more important free throws to make it a six-point game. The Judges’ defense held and forced a miss, with Darret Justice ’23 grabbing the rebound and scoring the game’s final point on a free throw to seal the bounce back victory with 0:17 seconds to play.

After starting off 0–9 from behind the arc, the Judges finished 7–16, with five of those coming from Jones and Sawyer who each led the team with 17 points. Jones had a double-double with 14 rebounds, twice as many as any other player on either team. He also paced Brandeis in assists with three. The Judges had a -5 turnover margin but escaped with the win thanks to their +19 mark in team rebounding.

Brandeis ended the weekend where they started it in terms of UAA standings, tied at the top of the conference with both Emory University and Washington University in St. Louis with a record of 7–2. The Judges are now 15–5 overall and travel next to the University of Rochester on Friday Feb. 14 for an 8 p.m. tip-off before an all-important clash with Emory on Sunday at noon.