Powell's 23 leads men to win in UAA opener, 57-54, over NYU

John Powell '17 (photo by Sportspix.biz/Mike Broglio)
John Powell '17 (photo by Sportspix.biz/Mike Broglio)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University men's basketball team got a career-high 23 points and seven rebounds from sophomore center John Powell (Ashland, Mass./Brimmer and May School) as the Judges rallied past rival New York University, 57-54, in the University Athletic Association (UAA) opener for both teams. Brandeis moves back to .500 at 6-6 overall, 1-0 in the UAA. The Violets fall to 8-3, 0-1 UAA.

The visitors led for much of the first half, but could not pull away. Their largest lead was five points, including the 30-25 score at the break. Powell had 10 points in the first half, but NYU's duo of junior Evan Kupferberg (Boca Raton, Fla./Spanish River) and Costis Gontikas (Athens Greece/Athens College) notched 12 and 10 points respectively. The Violets were able to keep the lead thanks to a 14-2 advantage in points off turnovers in the first half.

Powell got the Judges back even with the first five points of the second half, including a traditional three-point play that evened the score at 30-all. Rookie Jordan Cooper (Weston, Fla./Sagemont School) hit a pair four minutes into the second to give Brandeis their first lead since 13-12. From that point, the score changed hands six times and was tied seven times as neither squad was able to pull away.

With 8:19 left in regulation, sophomore guard Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.) tipped in a long miss to knot the game at 44. After an NYU turnover and a Brandeis miss, NYU junior Hakeem Harris (Bergenfeld, N.J./Blair Academy) grabbed the rebound and went the length of the floor for a lay-up to put the Violets ahead. He had a steal on the next Brandeis possession, and Patrick Burns (Lexington, Mass./Lexington) connected to give the Violets a four-point lead, 48-44, with 6:39 to go.

Both teams had trouble hanging onto the ball, with three-straight turnovers. Harris recovered from one steal by blocking a Brandeis break-away lay-up. On the ensuing possession, NYU's Max Ralby (Boca Raton, Fla./St. Andrew's School) hit one of two from the line to match the visitors' largest lead at 49-44, with 4:41 left.

Brandeis answered with a Powell tip-in, his first points in more than 10 minutes. Powell then rebounded a Harris 3-point miss, and Judge rookie guard Carlin Haymon (Boston, Mass./Rivers School) connected from the right corner to tie the game at 49-49 with 3:27 to go. Harris answered from the line to put the visitors back up by two, but Brandeis's Cooper hit one from the line to make it a one-point game with 2:42 to go.

NYU had a chance to extend the lead on their next possession when they grabbed two offensive rebounds, but Powell blocked the Violets' third chance and Haymon grabbed the rebound. On the next possession, Powell missed a lay-up, but rookie Nate Meehan (Lowell, Mass./Philips Andover) grabbed the rebound from the top of the key and was fouled as he drove towards the basket. Meehan calmly drained both free throws to give Brandeis the lead for good, 52-51, with 1:39 left. The Judges ended the game hitting seven of their last eight foul shots to keep the Violets at bay.

Brandeis forced a key turnover with a one-point lead, when sophomore Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio/St. Andrew's School) knocked the ball loose from NYU big man Kupferberg in the post, with junior Colby Smith (No. Andover, Mass./No. Andover) pouncing on the loose ball and calling timeout to help maintain possession. After Cooper hit one free throw and Powell hit two, making it a 55-51 game with 20.8 seconds to go, Harris came down and hit a 3-pointer with 14.3 left before two more Powell freebies sealed the game.

Powell posted 13 points and six rebounds in the second half to finish with his game-highs of 23 points and seven caroms. He hit 8-of-12 overall from the field and all seven of his free throws. He also had two assists, two blocks and a steal. Cooper added nine points and four boards, while Reale and Smith tied for team-high honors with three assists.

The Judges were able to hold an NYU team that had been shooting 51.4% on the season to just 40.4% from the floor (19-47), including 33.3% in the second half (8-24). The Violets also entered the game hitting 37.6% from 3-point range but connected on just 17.6% (3-17) today. Brandeis also edged NYU on the boards, 30-29.

NYU put three players in double figures in scoring. Kupferberg had 15 points on 4-of-7 from the field and 7-of-9 from the line. Gontikas had 14 points and tied Powell with a game-high seven rebounds. After scoring 22 points in the first half, the two were held to just seven in the second. Harris picked up the slack, scoring 10 of his 13 after the break. After turning 12 Brandeis turnovers into 14 points in the first half, the Violets got just two points of off four Judge miscues in the second.

Brandeis returns to UAA action next Friday at Carnegie Mellon at 8 p.m. NYU hosts Hunter College Tuesday at 7 p.m.