#14 NYU Wins UAA-Opening Thriller 69-67 vs. Brandeis

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Late-game heroics from New York University's trio of senior forwards helped lead the Violets to a nail-biting 69-67 victory over Brandeis University in the squad's University Athletic Association (UAA) season-opener on Saturday afternoon, January 8, at the Jerome S. Coles Sports Center in Manhattan.
"Before UAA play starts, it's sometime tough to get the full picture of just how good we are because the schedule is just not as tough," said NYU Assistant Coach Conor Smith. "We just make sure that we come out strong and with a lot of energy. Then, afterwards, we can get a measure on what we can accomplish this season as a team."
The Violets (10-0, 1-0 UAA) entered the day ranked #14 in the most recent D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll but had their hands full with the Judges (6-6, 0-1 UAA). The contest was back and forth throughout, was tied five times and saw six lead changes – the final of which came with 2:09 remaining via a Costis Gontikas layup.
"At the end of the game, it comes down to how much trust and confidence we have in each other and we all showed that," said Gontikas. "It doesn't matter who scores the most points or grabs the most rebounds. All that matters is that we come away with the win."
To start the contest, NYU had a handle on the Judges and led by seven with 2:54 left until the break. Brandeis proceeded to close out the first on an 11-0 run, including a huge three-pointer and seven points from Jordan Cooper, and took a 40-36 lead into halftime.
After trading the lead several more times in the second half, the Violets found themselves ahead 57-55 with 6:40 left before the Judges went on another run – 9-0 this time – to take a 64-57 lead with just 5:22 left.
Enter the NYU big men as Patrick Burns converted on an old fashioned three-point play with just over five minutes left. Evan Kupferberg, who finished with game highs in points (18) and rebounds (13), added four more points on a lay-in at 4:32 and a pair of free throws at 4:08. Then, Gontikas hit a pair of baskets to put the Violets up 68-64 with 1:21 to play. NYU held that lead and went on to win by two points.
"We don't give up no matter what," continued Smith. "Whatever the score, opposing teams need to know that were going to keep fighting and hopefully find a way to win and we did that today."
- Gontikas finished with 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, one block, and one steal.
- Burns was 6-of-7 from the free-throw line and totaled 12 points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks.
Ross Udine led all players with eight assists and chipped in seven points.
Tony Bai registered 12 points, one rebounds, on assists, and a block.
- NYU capitalized on the offensive boards, outscoring the Judges 22-5 in second-chance points.
- Five Brandeis players scored in double-figures, led by Cooper's 13 points.
The Violets will return to the court when they travel uptown on Monday night, January 11. NYU will face Hunter College at 7:00 pm in the second half of the annual doubleheader.