PITTSBURGH, Pa. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team pulled a remarkable comeback tonight, outscoring host Carnegie Mellon 25-7 in the final four minutes to rally from 13 points down and defeat the Tartans, 73-68, in a University Athletic Association contest tonight. With the win, the Judges improve to 16-5, 7-3 UAA, while the Tartans fall to 4-17, 1-9 UAA.
When Carnegie Mellon's Andre Moore hit a fast-break layup to make the score 61-48 in favor of the Tartans with four minutes left on the clock, Brandeis faced its largest deficit of the game. Junior guard Derek Retos (No. Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May) started the rally with a trifecta, but CMU's Asad Meghani hit a driving lay-up at the 3:17 mark to push the Brandeis deficit to 12 at 63-51. Retos responded with a second-chance 3-pointer from nearly 30 feet out to get the Judges back within single digits with 2:49 remaining. After a stop and big rebound by junior Connor Arnold (Andover, Mass./Deerfield Acad.) on the defensive end, senior Jay Freeman (Dorchester, Mass./St. Mark's School) hit a driving lay-up to get the Judges within seven. Matt Loebbaka of the Tartans scored on a feed from Meghani with 2:03 on the clock to make it a 65-56 lead for the hosts, but that would be their final field goal of the game.
After a CMU timeout, Brandeis junior center Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews, R.I., School) scored underneath to get the Judges back within seven. CMU ran the clock down on their next possession before drawing a foul, but the Tartans missed the front end of the one-and-one. Arnold got another huge carom, allowing Freeman to connect from deep at the left elbow in just 10 seconds to get Brandeis within four, 65-61, but with just 1:27 remaining. The Judges quickly fouled Meghani, who hit both foul shots, pushing the Tartans' lead back to six.
Once again, Freeman responded, hitting a trifecta that popped high off the back iron and through the net, getting Brandeis back within one possession with 67 second left in the game. After calling a timeout to set the defense, Brandeis forced CMU to use one of their own before inbounding the ball. After the hosts got the ball in, however, Freeman and a teammate were able to trap the ball near midcourt. Freeman emerged with the ball and drove for a lay-up, getting Brandeis to within just one point, 67-66, with 53 seconds on the clock.
Brandeis was whistled for a foul on their next attempt to trap the ball, but CMU missed both foul shots, with Arnold again appearing on the spot for the big rebound. With 27 seconds left, Brandeis took its first lead since 8:22 of the first half when rookie guard Colby Smith (No. Andover, Mass./No. Andover) drove the lane and dished the ball to Dascy, who hit a lay-up and was fouled in the process. Dascy hit the free throw to make it a 69-67 Brandeis lead. CMU had a chance to tie the game at the line with 15 seconds remaining, but Moore hit just 1-of-2, while Smith and Arnold hit their final two foul shots each to provide the final margin of victory.
Brandeis put three players in double figures. Retos, making his first start in exactly two months, led all players with 19 points. He scored 11 in the first half, keeping the Judges in the game, as they trailed, 35-31, at the break. Retos hit 6-of-14 overall, 5-of-12 from downtown and 2-of-2 from the line. He also played all 40 minutes for the first time this season and the second time in his career.
Freeman, who hadn't played more than eight minutes in a game all season, played 18 tonight and finished with 18 points, two more than he had all season and matching his career-high. Freeman hit 7-of-13 from the floor, 3-of-6 from deep and 1-of-2 from the line. He scored 11 of his 18 points in the second half, including eight in the final 90 seconds. Dascy, coming off the bench for only the second time all season, finished with 16 points, 12 of which came after the intermission. He was 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the line. Freeman and Dascy helped the Judges not only own a 41-6 advantage in bench points, but also allowed them to overcome the loss of three regular starters and their top three scorers in UAA play: Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) and Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H./Tilton School) were unable to start the contest, while Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad.) played just 11 first-half minutes before leaving with an injury.
Arnold had a terrific all-around game, collecting a career- and game-high nine rebounds, while also leading the Judges with three assists. He helped Brandeis to a 34-24 edge in rebounding and 15-4 in second-chance points. The Judges also outscored CMU, 17-8, from the free throw line.
Carnegie Mellon put three starters in double figures, as Meghani finished with 18 points on 6-of-14 overall, 4-for-11 from deep, and 2-of-2 from the line. He also had a game-high five assists. Moore finished with 16 points on 6-of-12 overall, 3-of-5 from beyond the arc – but just 1-of-4 from the line with the key misses down the stretch – and four steals. Raushan Riley had 14 points and Loebbaka led the Tartans with six rebounds, four on the offensive glass. The Tartans hit 25-of-49 from the field for the game, making them the first team to shoot better than 50 percent against the Judges this season.
Brandeis continues its road trip on Sunday afternoon at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland at noon. CMU hosts NYU at the same time.