Men's basketball tests #16 WPI in season opener before falling, 55-46

Collin Sawyer '20 (Photo by / Mike Broglio)
Collin Sawyer '20 (Photo by / Mike Broglio)

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team was within two points of 16th-ranked WPI with just over eight minutes to go, but the Judges couldn't get over the hump in a 55-46 loss on the Engineers home court tonight. It was the season opener for both teams – the Judges fall to 0-1, the Engineers move to 1-0.

WPI got off to a hot start, scoring 12 of the game's first 14 points to take a 12-2 lead less than 3:30 into the game. The hosts still led by 10 with 15:51 on the clock when the Judges' defense kicked into gear. The Judges held WPI scoreless for the next eight minutes as they embarked on a 12-0 run that gave the visitors their first lead, 16-14, on a 3-pointer by rookie Dylan Lien (Northboro, Mass. / Worcester Academy) with 8:13 on the clock.

Brandeis got a stop on their next possession, but couldn't extend their lead. WPI answered with a 3-pointer from Ethan Harrell that sparked an 8-0 run of their own. The Engineers would never trail again. They extended their lead to 31-20 by halftime. The Judges got five points from sophomore Kyle Downing (Upton, Mass. / Nipmuc Regional) in the first, and four each from junior Chandler Jones (Springfield, Mass./Springfield Commonwealth Academy) and sophomore Nolan Hagerty (Yarmouth, Maine/Yarmouth). Reid Walker had 11 for WPI and Colin McNamara added eight.

The Judges made an early big in the second half to get back into the contest, with junior Lawrence Sabir (Providence, R.I./LaSalle Academy) converting a four-point play with 17:02 on the clock to get Brandeis within 33-28. WPI responded with a 6-2 run that pushed their lead back to nine, 39-30, on a Jake Wisniewski jumper with 13:46 remaining.

Brandeis answered again, going on a 10-2 streak over the next 5:20. Lien and senior Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) each hit 3-pointers in the run, while Jones's jumper with 8:26 remaining got the Judges within 41-39. Brandeis got a stop on the next possession, but couldn't take advantage, and WPI bounced back. The Engineers scored the next seven points of the game and were able to hold off the Judges the rest of the way.

Sawyer led the Judges with 10 points and six rebounds. Nine of his 10 points came in the second half. Jones had a great all-around game with seven points, a team-best 11 rebounds, two blocks and two steals.  Lien's nine points led all bench players.

WPI put three players in double digits in scoring McNamara led all players with 14 points, while Walker had 13 and Garrett Stephenson had 11 and a game-high 12 rebounds. Lou Doherty and Kahleb Downing each had two assists to lead the Engineers.

Brandeis won the rebounding battle, 36-33, but WPI forced 24 turnovers while committing just 11. The Engineers also outscored Brandeis, 18-9, from the free-throw line.

Brandeis returns to action with another non-conference game next Wednesday evening at Rivier College. WPI hosts New England College next Friday at 5:30 p.m. in their Ted Coughlin Memorial Tournament.