WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team led by as many as 22 points early in the second half and the Judges used a balanced attack to hold off a rally by visiting Rhode Island College, 81-75, in Red Auerbach Arena today. With the win, Brandeis improves to 3-2 on the season, while the Anchormen suffer their first loss to fall to 4-1.
In the first meeting between the two squads since 2016, Brandeis scored eight-straight points midway through the first half to turn a 17-16 deficit into a 24-17 lead they would never relinquish. RIC was within six points with 4:21 remaining in the first at 34-28, but the Judges closed on an 11-3 run to take a 45-31 lead into the locker room. Senior guards Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) and Eric D'Aguanno (Saunderstown, R.I./St. Andrews School) combined for 18 points and three 3-pointers in the period, while sophomore center Nolan Hagerty (Yarmouth, Maine/Yarmouth) had eight points and seven rebounds. RIC was kept in the game by the duo of junior Keyshaun Jacobs (14 points) and rookie Shion Darby (12 points), who accounted for 84 percent of their team's offense.
It looked as though the Judges might run away with things when D'Aguanno hit two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to make it a 21-point game at 61-40 with 14:11 left on the clock. Sawyer hit 1-of-2 from the line with 12:42 remaining to give Brandeis their biggest lead of the game at 22 points. Jacobs answered with a 3-pointer, and the Anchormen hung around, increasing their defensive pressure. The visitors chipped away at the lead, getting within 10 points on two Jacobs free throws with 2:25 left. RIC called timeout, and though Brandeis junior Lawrence Sabir (Providence, R.I./LaSalle Academy) hit two free throws on the next possession, Jacobs dialed long distance to cut the Rhode Island deficit to single digits, 77-68, with 1:52 remaining. RIC forced two Brandeis turnovers and the Judges missed a front end of a one-and-one, allowing the Anchormen to get within two possessions on a Darby trifecta with 1:08 to go. Sabir answered with two more freebies and the Judges were able to keep RIC at bay the rest of the way.
Brandeis finished with four players scoring in double figures. Sawyer led the Judges with 17 points, hitting 6-of-11 overall, 2-of-4 from 3-point range, and 3-of-7 from the line. It was the fourth time in five games this season he led the Judges in scoring. D'Aguanno added 16 points off the bench, going 4-for-9 overall, 3-for-7 from deep and 5-for-5 from the line. His three 3-pointers give D'Aguanno 203 for his career, moving him into sole possession of third place on Brandeis's all-time list. He is now six behind Steve Harrington '02 for second place and 28 behind Derek Retos '14 for first. Sabir added 11 points, nine coming in the second half, while Hagerty had 10 points and eight rebounds, two boards shy of his first collegiate double-double. He also led the team with a career-best five assists. The Judges finished with 19 assists on their 30 buckets, compared to just eight helpers on 23 field goals for RIC. The Judges also had a 39-31 rebounding advantage. They outshot the Anchormen, 55% to 37% and held the visitors 16 points below their season scoring average.
The Brandeis balance offset terrific individual performances from Jacobs and Darby, who combined to finish with 59 points to account for 79 percent of their team's offense as each played all 40 minutes. Darby led all players with 34 points, hitting 10-of-24 overall, 5-of-9 from 3-point range, and 9-of-9 from the line. Jacobs added 25, including 7-of-15 from beyond the arc. No other Anchorman had more than seven points, as senior Benjamin Vezele did, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds as well. Jonatan Batista had four of the team's eight assists.
Brandeis returns to action on November 26th with a 7 p.m. contest at UMass Dartmouth. RIC is at Bridgewater State at 7:30 p.m. the same night.