ROCHESTER, NY - In typical UAA fashion, the University of Rochester and Brandeis University engaged in a low-scoring, tough defensive battle on Sunday, with home Rochester emerging with a 66-64 overtime win at the Louis Alexander Palestra.
The victory was Rochester's fourth straight and fifth in six games as the Yellowjackets move to 9-11 overall and 5-4 in the UAA conference. UR sits in a five-way tie for 2nd in the conference standings as Rochester, Washington, NYU, Case Western Reserve and Emory all have 5-4 records in the UAA. Chicago is the leader after Sunday with a 6-3. Brandeis drops its fifth game in a row and is now 7-13, 2-7 UAA this season.
Sophomore Sam Borst-Smith was the hero on Sunday, sinking a running layup in the lane with 6.9 seconds left in overtime to lift Rochester. Brandeis got the ball back and had a Colby Smith jumper from the left elbow rattle out as time expired in the contest.
Borst-Smith ended with a game-high 23 points, his fifth 20+ point game on the season, adding four rebounds and three steals in the process. Mack Montague added 15 points, including three 3-pointers and Jared Seltzer chipped in 11 off the bench. Sophomore Zack Ayers played strong inside, scoring five points and added 11 rebounds and two blocks, both matching a career high.
Brandeis was paced by Robinson Vilmont who scored 22 points (8-8 FT), grabbed 8 rebounds and swiped 4 steals. Jordan Cooper was the only other Judges player in double-figures with 16 points.
In the extra session, both teams struggled offensively, with UR going 2-4 shooting with five turnovers and Brandeis making just 1-7 attempts, including going 0-3 from behind the arc.
Montague scored UR's first four points in the overtime, putting the Yellowjackets up 64-62 with 2:51 to play. Then with under 90 seconds to play, Smith and Tim Reale each made 1-2 free throws to pull Brandeis even with 25 seconds on the clock. That set up Borst-Smith and Rochester for the last shot, which the sophomore pulled off with the seconds ticking away.
To get to overtime, the two teams traded three point plays in the closing minutes. With 3:25 to play, Borst-Smith made an old-fashioned 3-point play after a foul. That was followed up by Smith sinking a three from the right wing for the Judges 24 seconds later, tying the game at 55. Seltzer then made an and-one with 1:26 on the clock, only to see that answered from a Cooper three with 1:08 remaining. Ayers nearly provided a third straight bucket and foul, but his free throw rimmed out after a layup with 44 seconds left. At the other end, Vilmont was fouled and sank 2 of 2 to tie the game at 60, sending it to OT.
After shooting just 32% from the floor in the first half, Rochester entered the break trialing by six, at 35-29 to the Judges. Brandeis would then make 1-of-2 free throws to open the second half of play, reaching the biggest lead of the game for either squad at seven.
Brandeis would hold that lead twice more, with the third coming after a Vilmont lay-in and foul shot with 13:02 to play. UR would then rattle off a 9-0 run to take a two point lead. After the Judges would score the next four to regain a two point edge, Rochester scored five straight points to return to a 3-point lead with 3:24 remaining.
Rochester's next contest will be against UAA leading Chicago on Friday, with the weekend wrapping up on Sunday against Washington-St. Louis. Both games are at home, with Sunday serving as senior day in UR's last home game of the season.