Lien, Sawyer help men rally past Rochester, 66-61

Dylan Lien '23 dribbles with a defender in his face
Dylan Lien '23 (photo by / Taken before current masking regulations in place)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team closed the game on a 14-4 run today to pick up a key University Athletic Association (UAA) road victory, 66-61, at the University of Rochester. With the win, the Judges improve to 9-4 overall, 2-2 in the UAA, while the Yellowjackets fall to 11-6, 3-4 UAA.

In a game that featured six ties and eight lead changes, most coming in the second half, the Judges found themselves trailing by five, 57-52, after UR's Dan Masino hit a 3-pointer with 4:02 left in regulation. After both teams committed turnovers on their next possession, Brandeis senior Nolan Hagerty (Yarmouth, Maine/Yarmouth) picked up a steal and a lay-up to cut into the lead. Hagerty grabbed a rebound on the next Rochester miss, and graduate student Collin Sawyer (New London, Conn./New London) connected on a 3-pointer to tie the game at 57 with 3:02 remaining.

Both teams got stops on their next possessions, and Judge grad student Tommy Eastman (Honeoye Falls, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) hit one-of-two from the line to put the Judges ahead, 58-57, with just over a minute to go. Eastman picked up a steal on the next UR possession and found Sawyer open on right wing, and the guard, who hit his 200th career 3-pointer two nights earlier, buried a dagger from downtown to give Brandeis a 4-point lead. Junior Dylan Lien (Northboro, Mass./Worcester Academy) hit two free throws to make it a six-point lead and the Judges hit enough free throws the rest of the way to give Brandeis the lead.

The first half was a game of runs, as Brandeis scored the game's first eight points, but Rochester rallied. The hosts scored 15 in a row at one point, taking a 32-27 lead into the locker room.

For the game, Lien led all players with a game- and season-high 16 points, two shy of his career-best. He was just 4-of-13 from the field, 3-of-9 from downtown and 5-6 from the line. Three other Judges scored in double digits. Eastman finished with his second double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds, tied for game-high honors. Sawyer added 14 points, 10 coming in the second half, while Hagerty scored 10 of his 12 in the second stanza. Senior Chandler Jones (Springfield, Mass./Springfield Commonwealth Academy) matched Eastman for game-high honors with 10 rebounds.

Rochester was led by 15 points from Andrew Jackson and 13 points and six rebounds by Trent Noordsij. Ross Gang had 10 points, six boards and a game-high six assists.

Brandeis outscored Rochester, 21-12, from 3-point range and 19-11 from the free-throw line. The Judges also won the turnover battle, forcing 16 while committing only 14, and converting those into 21-15 scoring advantage.

The win for Brandeis was the second in three chances for head coach Jean Bean at Rochester, but just the second in the last 11 meetings with the Yellowjackets in the Palestra.

Brandeis returns to action next Friday evening with a home contest against #24 Emory, before another meeting with Rochester next Sunday afternoon.  They will be the Judges' first two UAA home games of the season after missing their first three due to COVID.