Men’s basketball beats Brandeis, NYU
Bears extend win streak to 12, clinch 20th victory for second straight season
The Washington University men’s basketball team continued to roll towards the end of the regular season, beating Brandeis University and New York University on the road to remain undefeated in 2018 and since losing to No. 3 Augustana College in December.
The Bears began the weekend with a visit to Waltham, Mass. to take on a Brandeis team that had lost nine of its last 10 games entering Friday’s contest. Senior forward Andrew Sanders led the way for the Red and Green, leading all scorers with 24 points, also his high-water mark over the past two months.
Wash. U. came out of the gate ready to play, jumping out to an early 10-2 lead. Despite some turnover issues for both teams early on—in one stretch in the first half, the Bears turned the ball over on three straight possessions—the hot start persisted, as Wash. U. outscored Brandeis 45-35 before the break.
Sharp shooting from a trio of guards—senior Kevin Kucera, sophomore Matt Nester and freshman Jack Nolan—in addition to senior forward Matt Highsmith helped the Bears gain the double-digit advantage; the quartet combined to go 6-for-7 from deep in the first half. All four players would finish the game with two made threes on at least 50 percent from behind the three-point line.
At the start of the second half, Brandeis began to cut into Wash. U.’s lead, weaning the lead to just two points less than three minutes into the half. However, the Bears battled back on the defensive end as Highsmith recorded two steals within the next four possessions, which turned into points on the offensive end.
The Judges’ shooting stagnated during the second half, as multiple empty possessions presented a huge opportunity for the Bears to pull away. Sanders scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half, providing the Bears with enough offensive firepower to extend their lead to as many as 18 points in the second half.
With about five minutes to go in the game, Wash. U. was comfortably ahead 82-64, firmly in control of the game. Though Brandeis battled until the very end, the hole they dug for themselves was too much to overcome, and the Bears left Massachusetts with an 87-75 win.
Wash. U. then traveled to the Big Apple to face New York University Sunday. The Bears came into the game heavy favorites, determined to protect their undefeated record in the UAA, and their spot as the second-ranked team in the nation.
Sanders had another big scoring game, leading the way with 23 points. Sanders’ offensive effort moved him into 16th place on Wash. U.’s all-time scoring list, and his 23 points on the day took his career total to 1,199.
The Bears dominated wire-to-wire, and the post-game statistics reflect this. The Bears beat NYU in every major statistical column, shooting a higher percentage from the field, racking up more assists and turning the ball over less. The biggest difference between the two teams proved to be in bench production, as Wash. U.’s bench outscored NYU’s bench 37-12. Nester and junior center Marcus Meyer led the way in scoring for the bench, putting up seven points each.
Wash. U. also gained a big advantage on the glass, out-rebounding NYU 43-31 on the day. Senior center David Schmelter had a particularly good day on the glass, pulling down 12 boards for the Bears. Much of the second half turned into garbage time, and only the margin of victory was in question for the Bears. Ethan Feldman led the way for NYU with 19 points, though that would not be enough to slow down Wash. U., and the Bears cruised to a 99-72 win.
Wash. U. improved to 20-2 on the season, and remained undefeated in the UAA. The Bears will play their last home stand of the regular season this weekend against Case Western Reserve University and Carnegie Mellon University, and will hope to close out a perfect conference schedule.