WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University men's basketball senior Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) had a game-high 22 points tonight to lead the 25th-ranked Judges to a 71-64 victory over the visiting Case Western Reserve University Spartans in a University Athletic Association contest. With the win, the Judges improve to 13-4, 5-1 in the UAA, and remain one game back in the conference standings. The Spartans fall to 8-9, 1-5 UAA.
Tonight's victory was the Judges' first at home as a ranked team since the 2012-13 season, and the win clinches a winning season for the Judges, giving them back-to-back seasons over .500 for the first time since '12-'13 and '13-14.
Brandeis led nearly wire-to-wire in this one. Case Western Reserve owned a brief 6-5 lead in the early going, but the Judges scored the game's next six points – four by Sawyer – and never trailed again. Brandeis led by as many as 15 points after a coast-to-coast layup by rookie Darret Justice (Haymarket, Va./Highland School) that made it 32-17 with 4:09 to go before the break. Justice added another hoop a 70 seconds before the break to give the hosts a 36-23 lead after 20 minutes. Brandeis hit 50 percent from the field (15-30) and from beyond the arc (5-10) to take their 13-point advantage, while holding CWRU to 31 percent (9-29) overall and 36 percent from deep (4-11) in the first half.
After Sawyer hit a trifecta to open the second period, the Judges had their largest lead of the game. The Brandeis advantage was still 15 points after a Matan Zucker (Manapalan, N.J./Lawrenceville Prep) put-back made it 45-30 with 16:16 remaining, but CWRU turned up the defensive clamps, holding Brandeis without a field goal over the next five minutes. The Spartans cut their deficit in half after a Cole Frilling lay-up at the 14:32 mark made it 45-38, but a long scoreless drought for both teams followed. The Judges got three foul shots by Sawyer in one possession to push the margin back to double digits at 48-38 with 12:04 to go. The visitors hung around, closing within five points at 59-54 on an Antonio Ionadi three-point play with 5:25 on the clock, but the Judges were able to keep the visitors at bay, never letting them closer than five points the rest of the way.
Sawyer led all players with 22 points, 13 coming in the second half. He shot 8-for-15 from the floor, 3-of-8 from 3-point range and 3-of-3 from the line. He also had a fine defensive game with five rebounds and two steals. Junior Chandler Jones (Springfield, Mass./Springfield Commonwealth Academy) added 13 points and six rebounds. Zucker led the Judges with a career-high eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, in 12 minutes of work. Sophomore Sam Nassar (Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law) led Brandeis with four assists.
CWRU had three players score in double figures, with Robert Faller leading the squad with 20 points on 6-of-12 overall with two 3-pointers, and 6-of-10 from the line. Ryan Newton added a double-double performance with 15 points and game-high 11 rebounds, while also blocking five shots. Antonio Ionado had four assists.
Brandeis returns to action on Sunday afternoon at home against Carnegie Mellon for a noon tip. A win would see the Judges improve to 6-1 in the UAA, their best conference start ever.