Worcester, Mass. (courtesy Clark sports information)– Host Clark University used hot 3-point shooting in the first half and a strong performance from a host of reserves to sprint past visiting Brandeis University, 74-55, in non-league men's basketball action on Tuesday evening at the Kneller Athletic Center.
The win snaps a seven-game losing streak against the Judges for Clark, which dated back to the 2001-02 season and also denies Clark alum Brian Meehan - Brandeis' head coach - his 300th career victory.
With the score tied 10-10 less than five minutes into the game, the Cougars went on a 16-6 run over the next nine minutes to take control of the game. The scoring spree featured 3-pointers from John Karas (Glastonbury, Conn.) and Travis Curley (Trumbull, Conn.) and a pair of transition layups from Brian Vayda (Sturbridge, Mass.).
The Judges stayed close using the long shot as well, with sophomore guard Derek Retos (North Attleboro, Mass./Brimmer and May School) knocking down three of his own in the first half, the last one cutting the lead to 41-33 with less than a minute left in the opening half.
Mitch Renshaw (Rutland, Mass.) scored the final four points of the half, dropping in a jumper with 34 seconds left and after a missed Brandeis triple from junior Anthony Trapasso (Sterling, Mass./St. Johns Prep), Drew Billington (Fairfield, Conn.) grabbed the rebound and launched a pass that Renshaw caught in stride took one step and laid in the ball to beat the first half buzzer.
The lead ballooned to 50-35 moments into the second half after Curley scored on a steal and drive and then connected on a three-pointer at the 18:10 mark.
Brandeis trimmed the lead down to 12 at 50-38 on a conventional three-point play from Alex Schmidt (Dublin, Ireland/Fork Union (Va.) Military Acad.) with less than 15 minutes to play, but the Cougars put the game away when their advantage reached its peak at 20 points on the second dunk of the game from D.J. Bailey (Palmer, Mass.). This one came off an excellent feed from Billington, which Bailey converted while being fouled and his subsequent free throw made the score 70-50 with 4:38 to play.
Clark shot a blistering 67 percent from the field in the first half (18-for-27) and finished the game 29-for-56 (52 percent), while the Judges made 51 percent of their shots for the game (22-for-43).
The Cougars had a season-high 20 assists attached to their 29 baskets, with Billington handing out a career-best nine. Clark's reserves outscored the Judges bench 34-8 and the Cougars converted Brandeis' 14 turnovers into 15 points.
Curley finished with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting and Renshaw posted a season-best 14 points off the bench. Bailey joined those two in double figures with 13 points in just 16 minutes.
Vayda, who didn't reach double figures for the first time this season, stuffed the stat sheet with nine points, a game-high eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in 25 minutes.
Brandeis was paced by Retos, who totaled 17 points including a 4-for-7 performance from behind the arc. Rookie Ishmael Kalilou (Windsor, Conn./Taft School) ended with a career-best 11 points in his first collegiate start, while sophomore center Youri Dascy (Fall River, Mass./St. Andrews (R.I.) School) chipped in with 10 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
Clark will return to the hardwood on Thursday with a road game against Worcester State, while the Judges visit Salem State on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the third annual New England Big Four Challenge. Meehan will go for win No. 300 in his career against the team he guided to the first 160 wins of his career.