Regular season comes to an end, 17–4 overall
Brandeis went 2–3 over the final three weekends of the season.
Rochester 80, Judges 65
On Feb. 14 in upstate New York, the Judges fell to the University of Rochester Yellowjackets, a team they had beaten 76–54 at home earlier in the season.
Brandeis started well enough, with a lead of 24–20 in the first half, but were outscored 13–5 over the last six minutes of the half, going into the break trailing by four. Nolan Hagerty ’22 scored the first two points of the second half, but the Judges struggled after that. Rochester went on a 13–3 run to take a 46–34 lead. The Yellowjackets kept the pressure on, not letting Brandeis cut into the lead significantly from there. Eric D’Aguanno ’20 knocked down a three-pointer to make it 70–58 with five minutes to go, but Rochester responded with a 10–2 run to go up 80–60 before Austin Clamage ’21 scored the game’s final five points.
According to the Brandeis Athletics website, the Judges shot just 42 percent from the field compared to 60 percent for the Yellowjackets, and gave up seven Fastbreak points. Hagerty led the team with 15 points on 7–8 shooting, followed by 12 from D’Aguanno in 27 minutes off the bench. Leading scorer Collin Sawyer ’20 had a tough night, scoring all six of his points at the free-throw line and going 0–8 otherwise.
Emory 93, Judges 65
In Atlanta two days later, on Feb. 16, the Judges attempted to replicate their prior upset of the Emory University Eagles, but this time fell well short.
The team started well, heading into halftime with a 37–32 lead. It looked like another shock might be on, but the Eagles were unstoppable throughout the next 20 minutes. The Eagles quickly went on a 14–0 run in the opening four minutes of the second half, and still led by nine after a three-pointer from Sawyer a few minutes later. Emory followed that with a 15–5 run, to take a commanding 70–51 lead. The hosts were relentless, stifling every attempt at a Judges’ comeback before closing out the game on a 10–0 run.
Brandeis was badly outshot for the second consecutive game, going just 23–68 as a team. Sawyer led the team with 14 points, but went just 3–17 from the field.
Bears 77, Judges 70
The Judges put in a greatly improved performance back home on Feb. 21, but it was not enough to take down the Washington University in St. Louis Bears.
Playing their second straight game against a nationally ranked opponent, Brandeis went step for step with WashU in the first half, emerging with a 38–34 lead. The game stayed tight for most of the second half, with a D’Aguanno three-pointer putting the hosts ahead 54–52. That woke up the Bears, who went on to outscore the Judges 17–2 over a six minute stretch thanks to a barrage of three-pointers. Now trailing by 12 with just over four minutes to play, Darret Justice '23 got the Judges back within single digits with a three-pointer. The Bears immediately responded in kind, as Jack Nolan nailed the Bears’ third consecutive three-pointer to make it 72–60. In the final minute, WashU had the ball, ahead 75–65 and it looked like they would see the game out comfortably from there. Instead, the Judges forced a turnover and took advantage of a missed one and one to score five straight points and cut the lead in half with 26 seconds left. Brandeis forced a five-second violation and a held ball in the next three seconds of action, but turned the ball over on one possession and missed three shots on the next, allowing the Bears to escape with the win.
The Judges shot just 40%, but Chandler Jones ’21, D’Aguanno and Sawyer all scored double figures.
Judges 101, Maroons 95; 2OT
It took an extra ten minutes, but the Judges snapped their losing streak in an incredible game against the University of Chicago Maroons on Feb. 23.
Chicago led 58–43 with 13 minutes to go in the second half, but Brandeis went on a 21–5 run to take the lead. Trailing 74–71 with under a minute to go, Sawyer tied the score with the final three points of regulation before Dylan Lien ’23 missed a chance to win the game at the buzzer. In the first overtime period, the Judges took an 86–79 lead with 38 seconds on the clock and looked like they had completed the comeback victory. Instead, the Judges missed three consecutive free throws and the Maroons scored seven straight points to send the game to double overtime. With Sawyer — who scored a career-high 27 points — on the bench after fouling out, the Judges were tied at 91 with two minutes left before scoring six straight points, five of which were by Jones. Chicago would score twice more, but Jones countered with a pair of free throws after both baskets, sealing the once unlikely win.
Jones scored 21 points along with 10 rebounds and six assists. Lien scored 18 points including 4–5 from outside the arc, and D’Aguanno added 15. Brandeis shot 9–17 from three.
Judges 72, Violets 69
Brandeis closed out the regular season with an unexpectedly close win against the last-place New York University Violets on leap day.
Seniors D’Aguanno and Sawyer were honored before the game, and it was announced that Sawyer would be returning to the team next season as an eligible graduate student. D’Aguanno, making his lone start of the season scored a layup to tie the game at 10 early on, as part of a 21–6 run that put the Judges in front by 11. NYU clawed their way back into it, coming within two before a Lien jump shot brought the Judges’ lead at the half to 34–30. The Violets opened the second half on an 8–2 run to take the lead, but Lien took it back with a three-pointer and the Judges stayed ahead from that point on. Despite this, Brandeis never pulled away and the visitors hit a three-pointer to make it as close as 70–69 in the final minute. Jones missed at the other end and NYU had a chance to shock the hosts for their second UAA win at the buzzer. Instead, Matan Zucker ’23 made the play of the game by taking a charge with seven seconds left, and D’Aguanno scored his 1014th and 1,015th points of his Brandeis career at the free throw line to make it a three-point game. Violets’ senior Jimmy Martinelli missed a would-be game tying three at the horn.
Jones, Sawyer, Lien and Lawrence Sabir ’21 all scored at least 10 points, while Zucker had eight points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals in addition to taking the game deciding charge. The Judges only turned the ball over twice all game, while forcing 13 NYU giveaways.
Regular Season Recap
The Judges finish the season in third place in the UAA and will require an At-Large bid to qualify for the Division III NCAA Tournament, an unlikely but not impossible proposition. Short of that, they could qualify for the DIII East Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, which they won a year ago.
Sawyer finished the regular season as the team’s leading scorer with 390 points, with Jones next at 345. Jones led the team with 187 rebounds, while finishing tied with Hagerty for 72 assists. Jones also led the Judges in steals and blocks. Reigning UAA Defensive Player of the Year Lawrence Sabir saw his season interrupted by injury, but still managed to post 61 assists in 16 games. Jones and Sawyer each started all 25 games under second year Head Coach Jean Bain.