Men's basketball falls in a close one to No. 3 Tufts, 74-72

WALTHAM, Mass. –  The Brandeis University men's basketball team lost to No. 3 Tufts, 74-72, Friday evening at Red Auerbach Arena in their first game of the Big Four Challenge. It was the Judges' first home loss of the year, as they fall to 2-2 overall, while the Jumbos improve to 6-0.

Brandeis got off to a quick start, leading 12-3 a little over six minutes in. The Jumbos answered that run with one of their own, outscoring Brandeis 17-2 over the next 6:34 to take a 20-14 lead. The Judges were able to cut into their deficit thanks to seven quick points from junior Jordan Cooper (Weston, Fla./Sagemont School), but Tufts was able to steadily extend its lead and make it 38-24 after twenty minutes.

Tufts' Vincent Pace led all players with 14 points in the first half, en route to a game-high 21. He also added four rebounds, contributing to an astounding thirty rebound half for the Jumbos, who finished with 51. Cooper led the Judges in points over the first twenty with 11, and also had two rebounds. Senior Jack Fay (New Rochelle, N.Y./Suffield Acad.) had five points in the first as well.

The second half started off in a holding pattern, with the Tufts lead staying in the low- to mid-teens for the first five and a half minutes. The Judges then made a small run, but the Jumbos were able to lengthen their lead back out and led by ten, 63-53, with 7:12 remaining. Brandeis scored six straight before a Pace layup brought the lead back up to six, and then Vilmont hit a big three and Cooper made a strong move in the low post to cut the deficit to one, 65-64.

The Judges were down 72-69 when senior Robinson Vilmont (Cambridge, Mass./Wilbraham and Monson) laid one in and again cut the deficit to one before Tufts made two free throws to make it 74-71. Vilmont then went to the line with 3.9 seconds remaining, made the first, and missed the second, but Tufts grabbed the rebound and Brandeis fouled immediately. The Jumbos missed both shots but the Judges were unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.

Three Judges put up double-digit points; Cooper led with 19, while senior Tim Reale (Mason, Ohio/St. Andrews, R.I., School) had 14 and Vilmont had 12. All three tied for the team lead in rebounds with five, and Reale had a game-high seven assists.

As a team, Brandeis was more efficient from the floor, shooting 41.4% to Tufts' 34.4% as well as 36.4%-33.3% from beyond the arc. The Jumbos however, were able to win the battle of the boards, 51 rebounds to 27, and so were able to put up more shots overall.

Both teams return to action tomorrow, as Brandeis takes on Salem State in the consolation game at 2:00 p.m. and Tufts plays No. 2 Babson for the Crotty Cup in the final of the Big Four Challenge. The Beavers beat the Vikings, 82-73, in the first game of the tournament.

-Corey Cohen '18