#19 men's upset bid at #2 Rochester falls just short, 69-65

Ben Bartoldus '14 (photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)
Ben Bartoldus '14 (photo by Sportspix/Jan Volk)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team owned an eight-point lead in the second half, with juniors Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) and Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) scoring 21 points each, but it was University of Rochester senior guard John DiBartolomeo who led the way with 36 points as the Yellowjackets, ranked No. 2 in the latest d3hoops.com national poll, rallied for a 69-65 victory over the 19th-ranked Judges.

With the loss, the Judges fall to 14-4 overall, 5-2 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). The Yellowjackets improve to 18-0, 7-0 in the UAA. UR, one of the final two undefeated teams in Division III looks to take over the top spot in the d3hoops.com poll as they sit two games ahead of the Judges and Emory in the UAA standings.

Brandeis led UR at the half, 29-25, as Bartoldus scored 12 points on 4-of-7 from the field, including both of his 3-pointers, and 2-of-3 from the line. The Judges held UR, a team shooting a UAA-leading 51 percent from the floor, to just 33 percent in the first half. It was only the third time this season the Yellowjackets trailed at the break.

The Judges maintained the lead throughout the first half, going ahead by as many as eight at 50-42 after a Bartoldus trifecta with just under eight minutes remaining in the contest. At that point, DiBartolomeo caught fire. He answered Bartoldus's shot from deep on the next UR possession as part of his team's next 12 points, connecting from deep to tie the game at 52-52 with 4:28 on the clock. Brandeis scored baskets on their next couple of tries, but the 'Jackets were able to get to the line each time, keeping the visitors from pulling away. With the game tied at 56-56, Bartoldus drove the lane and converted a traditional three-point play at the 2:53 mark to put Brandeis ahead 59-56.

DiBartolomeo answered with two more from the charity stripe at the 2:38 mark. Brandeis's next possession was a key turning point. After Moton missed a straight-away 3-pointer, junior forward Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews, R.I., School) grabbed the offensive rebound. He kicked the ball back out to Moton, but the junior guard was whistled for an offensive foul drawn by DiBartolomeo. The defending UAA Player of the Year made the Judges pay on the other end, finding Kevin Sheehy for a corner three, giving UR a 61-59 lead, their first since 8-5.

Though that was UR's last field goal of the game, DiBartolomeo hit his final eight from the free throw line. After he put the hosts ahead 65-63 with 42 seconds left, the 'Jackets got another big stop, as Bartoldus's running jumper was off the mark and Tyler Sankes grabbed the defensive rebound. The hosts were able to run 12 seconds off the clock before Brandeis could foul, and they were able to get the ball into DiBartolomeo's hands, and he made it a two possession game with 11 seconds left. The Judges  still had a chance after Moton drew a quick foul and hit both foul shots to make it a 67-65 deficit, but the visitors were unable to force a turnover and suffered the four-point loss.

For the game, Bartoldus and Moton's 21 points were joined by 14 from Dascy, as the three combined for 56 of the squad's 65 points. They were overshadowed by DiBartolomeo, however, whose 36 points were more than half of his team's 69 points. He set a UR record with a 19-for-19 performance from the line, shooting five more from the charity stripe than the entire Brandeis team. DiBartolomeo scored 18 of his team's final 23 points over the final eight minutes of play, and added an assist on a 3-pointer in that range.

As a team, UR outscored Brandeis from the line, 29-11, as the Yellowjackets missed just two foul shots all game. The Judges hit 50 percent from 3-point range (8-16), but were just 3-of-8 in the second half. They also held Rochester to just 36 percent from the field (17-47) while shooting 46 percent themselves (23-50). Brandeis also owned a 31-27 rebounding advantage, with Moton and Dascy grabbing seven caroms each. Nate Vernon led the hosts with five boards. DiBartolomeo and Moton also tied for game-high honors with five assists. Rochester owned a 16-11 advantage in turnovers forced, turning the miscues into 13 points as opposed to just six points off turnovers for the Judges.

Brandeis returns to UAA action next weekend, when they will get a chance to avenge their two conference road losses from this weekend. The Judges host Emory next Friday night at 8 p.m. and Rochester on Super Bowl Sunday at noon. UR will open five of their last seven on the road at NYU next Friday night.