Cooper's huge second half helps men's hoops fend off UMass Dartmouth, 66-65

NO. DARTMOUTH, Mass. -- Brandeis University men's basketball sophomore Jordan Cooper (Weston, Fla./Sagemont School) scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the second half tonight as the Judges went on the road and held off UMass Dartmouth, 66-65, in a non-conference contest. The Judges improve to 2-0 with the win, while the Corsairs fall to 2-1. 

Brandeis jumped out to a 36-31 halftime lead thanks to junior Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson Acad.), who scored 11 of his 13 points in the first 20 minutes, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts. The Judges built the lead as large as 13 points early in the second half, going up 44-31 on a Cooper jumper at the 14:41 mark.

UMD scored the next seven points of the game, getting within six on a traditional three-point play by Nick Portalance. Brandeis pushed the lead back to eight on a Latye Workman (Brooklyn, N.Y. / Bedford Academy) lay-up, but the Corsairs' star, Jordan Rezendes went to work to get the home team back into the game. Rezendes hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then the first of two foul shots to get UMass Dartmouth back within 46-45 at the midway point of the second half.

Cooper answered with an and-one play, followed by a John Powell (Ashland, Mass./Brimmer and May School) put-back that pushed the lead back to six. UMD answered again with six in a row, tying the game at 51-51 on a Jahleel Moise lay-up. Brandeis went on an 11-4 run at that point, with eight of the Judges' points coming from Cooper, including two free throws at the 4:24 mark that made it 62-55.

After a pair of empty possessions were followed by a fast-break lay-up by UMD's Jon Robinson. After Powell hit 1-of-2 from the line, the Corsairs converted consecutive Brandeis turnovers to get within 63-61 with 2:26 on the clock. The hosts got another quick Brandeis miscue, but Rezendes's quick 3-pointer was off the mark. The Judges were whistled for another turnover, and this time the UMD star made them pay from downtown, giving the Corsairs a 64-63 lead, their first since the first half. 

On the ensuing possession, Powell drew a hack and hit both free throws, putting the Judges ahead, 65-64 with 1:02 left. Both teams had chances to extend or cut into the lead from the line, but they combined to hit just 2 of their final 10 from the charity stripe. Brandeis was able to hang on as Rezendes' final attempt was just off the mark.

Brandeis finished with three players scoring in double figures, with Cooper tallying 20 for the fourth time in his career. Powell finished with 14 and Vilmont had 13. Cooper and Powell also tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds. Powell also had three blocked shots and two assists. The win for the Judges avenged a two-point loss from last year in Waltham, when Rezendes hit a 3-pointer with three-tenths of a second left in regulation to give the Corsairs the win.

Rezendes finished with a game-high 26 points, while Atacan Akcam had 11 points off the bench, and Robinson had 10. Akcam also tied for game-high honors with seven boards.