The 25th ranked Brandeis men’s basketball team finished the first half of their conference schedule with a pair of wins against Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University.

Judges 71, Case Western Reserve 64

On Friday, the Judges defeated the Case Western Reserve University Spartans in a near wire-to-wire victory. After Sam Nassar ’22 opened the game with a three pointer, Cole Frilling gave Case Western Reserve a 6–5 lead with a triple of his own. Collin Sawyer ’20 answered with a pair of jump shots to give the Judges a 9–6 lead. A three pointer by Eric D’Aguanno ’20 gave the home team a 16–8 advantage at 13:05 of the first half. After the Spartans followed with a deuce, Chandler Jones ’21 connected from behind the arc to put Brandeis up by nine. After their lead dwindled to 22–17, Jones hit another triple as part of  a 10–0 run that gave the Judges a 15-point advantage. The team went into halftime ahead 36–23, sealing an impressive defensive performance by allowing two points over the final 3:19 of the period.

The second half started identically to the first, with Sawyer nailing a three exactly fifteen seconds in. A few minutes into the frame, Case Western Reserve worked their way back into the game by holding the Judges scoreless for over four minutes and scoring eight of their own for a score of 45-38. Aided by an excited crowd and some creative heckling from the Brandeis baseball team, Brandeis stretched the lead back out to 57–44 on another three by Sawyer. The senior has connected on a remarkable nearly 50 percent of his attempts from deep this season. 

The Judges gave up another seven straight points to make it a two possession game before the Spartans came within five at 5:25 left in regulation. Brandeis continued to hold their opponents, leading 66–58 before the visitors pulled back within six points. A timely steal by Sawyer led to one out of two free throws from Nassar to make it 69–61 in the final minute. Brandeis did just enough defensively and held Case Western Reserve at 61 points until they hit a three with 14 seconds on the clock. Two more free throws by Jones sealed the game at 11 seconds and the Judges escaped with a hard fought victory.

Sawyer led all scorers with 22 points, also contributing five rebounds and two steals. Chandler Jones had 13 points while Matan Zucker ’23 impressively led the Judges with eight rebounds in only 13 minutes off the bench. As a team, the Judges shot just 42.9% from the field but had the same percentage from three point territory, going a combined 9–21. Case Western Reserve dropped to 8–9 (1–5 in the University Athletic Association) with the loss.

Judges 87, Carnegie Mellon 68

On Sunday, the Judges rode a strong second-half performance to a convincing victory over the Carnegie Mellon University Tartans. The Judges took the lead 18 seconds in via a Sawyer three and eventually extended the advantage to 22–15 on another triple from the senior. The Tartans responded with a 7–0 run to tie the game at 22 with 9:25 left to go in the first half. Brandeis scored the next five but could not shake the visitors for the remainder of the first half, as Joey Krempa knocked down a three to make it 36–35 Judges at 2 minutes and 34 seconds. A layup by Zucker provided the only points of the final 150 seconds before Brandeis took a three point lead into the break.

The Judges came out firing in the second half. A layup by Sawyer and three pointer by Jones opened the period while the Judges held their opponents scoreless on defense. After a Jones jumpshot, Dylan Lien ’23 connected on two threes in a span of 29 seconds to turn a close game into a 51–35 blowout. Carnegie Mellon scored the next seven, and wound up pulling within six on a three by Krempa with 9 minutes and 23 seconds to go in the game. D’Aguanno earned a second chance bucket, and then Lien provided the dagger with another three to make it 66-55. The Tartans would not get closer than nine the rest of the way, with the Judges finishing the game on an 8–0 run.

Nolan Hagerty ’22 led Brandeis with 16 points, and D’Aguanno, Jones, Lien and Sawyer all scored at least 13 points. Jones added 11 rebounds for a double-double while Hagerty fell a rebound and four assists short of a triple-double. The Judges shot 12–24 from three in the win, sinking the Tartans to 9–9 (2–5 in the UAA) on the season.

Brandeis is now 14–4 (6–1 in the UAA) and tied with #8 Emory University and #11 Washington University in St. Louis for the UAA lead. The team faces the Spartans and Tartans again on Friday and Sunday next weekend, looking to continue a thus-far excellent campaign.