The Brandeis men’s basketball team split their University Athletic Association (UAA) weekend with a tough loss to the number 24 ranked Emory University Eagles and a late comeback victory against the University of Rochester Yellowjackets. The Saturday, Jan. 28 game against Emory was a battle of the hot hands. Emory came out of the gates flying and took an early lead which they kept for the remainder of the game. The main focus of this offensive attack was Emory’s star guard Matthew Schner ’22, who contributed 31 points as well as five rebounds. Schner was co-MVP of the UAA in the 2019-2020 season and proved he was deserving of those accolades during Saturday’s game. However, Brandeis didn’t bow out of the fight. Later on in the first half, Brandeis was able to cut the lead to five thanks to some solid finishing by Nolan Hagerty ’22 and a couple of deep shots by first-year stand-out Toby Harris ’25. Emory quickly responded to this run by controlling the rebounds and bringing the lead back to double digits. The first half was concluded in dramatic fashion as Brandeis’ Colin Sawyer M.A. ’22 hit a deep three to bring the half-time score to 37-44. 

Emory began the second half the same way they started the game, hitting shots and playing high intensity defense. Brandeis’ Chandler Jones ’22 added a couple of triples to rival the Eagles offensive dominance, but with 14 minutes left in the game, Emory took its largest lead of the game so far at 18 points. After a much needed timeout by Brandeis, the Judges found their footing once again. Dylan Lein ’23, Sawyer, and Hagerty began chipping away at the deficit and were just 6 points behind at the 7:35 minute mark. Despite the Judges' valiant efforts, the Eagles didn’t let off the gas and added a few key defensive stops to secure the win. 

Sawyer was the star of the game for the Judges scoring 26 points, including a late three-pointer which gave Sawyer a career total of 200 shots made behind the arc. Sawyer became the fifth player in Brandeis history to reach that milestone. 

In their contest against the University of Rochester, the Judges did their best impression of Emory and took a quick lead to begin the game. Unlike the Eagles, they ended up losing that lead late in the first half and walked back to the locker room trailing 27-32 at half-time. Fouls were the Achilles’ heel for the Judges as they ended the first half with Sawyer, Lien, and Tommy Eastman ’22 registering two fouls a piece. This foul trouble meant that the Judges star shooter, Sawyer, was sidelined more than usual during the contest. Lien was also the leading scorer with 16 points for the Judges despite his infraction difficulties. The latter part of the game was where things became interesting for both teams. Much of the second half was a difference of only one or two points and totaled 8 lead changes. The unsung player of the game was Eastman who tallied 10 rebounds and 14 points in the comeback victory. Eastman’s energy was felt on both sides of the ball and helped aid the team's confidence and settle the game down. With four minutes remaining, Rochester took a timeout with a five point lead in hand. That lead was quickly lost, and the Judges went on to score 11 unanswered points. Six of those points were thanks to the sharp shooting abilities of Sawyer from behind the deep line. The 11 point run gave the Judges a two possession lead heading into the final 30 seconds of game play, and they held strong to take home a big away win. 

Emory and Rochester will be heading to Waltham next week to play the second half of their UAA match-up with the Judges. In the 2019-2020 UAA season, which was the last time the Brandeis men’s basketball team saw Emory on their home court, they won in thrilling style with a last second put-back by Eric D’Aguanno ’21. That electric finish landed on Sportscenter top ten moments and gave Brandeis a win against the number 3 ranked team in the country at the time. Brandeis will look to defend its home court once again and possibly pull out some of the same heroics seen last season.