WALTHAM, Mass.- In a matter of seconds, elation turned to heartbreak as the Brandeis University men's basketball team lost at the buzzer to the 22nd-ranked Rhode Island College Anchormen at Red Auerbach Arena, 73-72. The Judges fall to 3-1 while the Anchormen even their record at 2-2.
Brandeis trailed for much of the contest with the deficit reaching 13 with 4:50 left on the clock. The momentum of the contest finally turned with the Judges down 67-56 and 4:09 to play. Senior guard Ben Bartoldus (Hillsborough, N.H./Proctor Acad. (N.H.)) was fouled while shooting from beyond the arc and drained all three of his free throws to pull Brandeis within eight. After the Anchormen went down the court and missed a 3-pointer, Bartoldus went back down the other way and drilled a trifecta of his own to cut the lead to five. An excellent press off the inbounds resulted in a steal and layup for Bartoldus as the crowd erupted and the lead was three. Another inbounds play for RIC and another outstanding trap resulted in a steal for senior guard Gabriel Moton (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg). When he drained a pair from the charity stripe, the clock read 3:03 and Brandeis had cut the lead down to one at 67-66.
With 2:06 remaining, it looked like the Anchormen had given themselves just enough breathing room when junior forward Chris Burton (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle) found nothing but net on 3-pointer from the top of the key late in the shot clock to give his squad a 71-66 edge. However, two free throws from Moton, a defensive stop, and two more free throws from Bartoldus set the stage for a frantic finish.
Incredible team defense by the Judges forced a shot clock violation with 24.6 seconds remaining in the game. With the shot clock turned off, Brandeis went to work. Moton drove down the left side of the paint and tried to put up a shot, but he was turned away and had to rescue the ball by diving out of bounds. In the split second he still had possession, coach Brian Meehan called a timeout and the Judges got the ball under the basket with 8.6 to go. On the ensuing inbounds play, sophomore guard Colby Smith (No. Andover, Mass./No,. Andover) found an open senior forward Alex Stoyle (Goffstown, N.H./Tilton School) who swished home a jumper from just above the foul line, giving Brandeis their first lead of the half with 6.8 seconds on the clock, 72-71.
On the final possession of the game, RIC's inbounder hit Cilley in stride. Cilley raced down the court and dished to senior guard Michael Palumbo (Providence, R.I./Classical) who got behind the Judges defense on a back door cut. Palumbo's lay-up dropped in as the buzzer sounded, giving the visitors a 73-72 victory.
Brandeis was led by Bartoldus who netted 19 points. Three other starters joined him in double-figures as Moton added 16, rookie guard Robinson Vilmont (Cambrdige, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.) had 13, and Stoyle contributed 10 more. Moton finished with a double-double, as he tied for the game-high with 11 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Bartoldus pulled down eight boards. Moton also had a game-high six assists. Vilmont and Moton each swiped four steals while Bartoldus had three more.
The Anchormen were led by Palumbo who came off the bench to score 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting including two trifectas. Burton joined him in double-figures with 10 as a reserve. Sophomore center Mike Neal (Pawtucket, R.I./Shea) had a team-high 11 rebounds while Cilley and senior guard Nyheem Sanders (Pawtucket, R.I./St. Andrew's) each had two assists.
In the first half, the Judges started strong, jumping out to a 7-2 lead in under three minutes. RIC did not let the early spurt get to them and rebounded to go on a 16-6 run and grab a five point advantage after a jumper from rookie guard Austin Cilley (Westerly, R.I./Westerly). Brandeis kept it close and regained the lead on a 3-pointer from Stoyle, but the Anchormen closed the half on a 17-5 charge and headed into the break with a 42-33 edge. The second half looked to be more of the same as Brandeis continued to struggle with shooting and turnovers after making only 33.3% of their shots from the field in the first period and turning the ball over 11 times.
The Judges return to action Tuesday November 26th in Red Auerbach Arena against Lasell with a 7:00 p.m. start. RIC continues their season on Tuesday November 26th at Bridgewater State at 7:30 p.m.