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BY DANIEL JEAN-LUBIN | On a day meant to honor the team’s graduating seniors, New York University’s men’s basketball team survived a late surge to defeat Brandeis University 59-57 on Saturday afternoon, in the final game of the University Athletic Association regular season.
The N.Y.U. Violets’ starting five seniors combined to produce a final big game as starting forward and team captain Carl Yaffe and center Devin Karch led the team with 19 points each. Yaffe’s mid-range jumper would start the first half scoring for the Violets (15-10 over all, 5-9 in conference play), but that lead would quickly vanish as the Violets saw Brandeis (17-8, 8-6) hit a pair of 3-pointers and give the Judges a 6-2 lead four minutes in.
The Violets would later find themselves in an 8-point hole with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, desperately looking for a spark. The Stockmal brothers, Cory and Kyle, proved up to the challenge, providing key plays on both sides of the ball to make it a 2-point game in the span of three minutes.
A fast-break layup from sophomore Iyoha Agho produced the game’s first tie at the 5:48 mark of the first half. Yaffe missed a late go-ahead layup, however, as the half ended with Brandeis leading 29-28.
The second half saw N.Y.U. net 8 straight points and continue their tight defensive play. Soon, the Violets found themselves leading by 10 points with 14 minutes remaining in regulation. The Judges would not be bested that easily, however, as they stormed all the way back and then took a 3-point lead with four minutes left on the clock.
Panic began to seep into Coles sports center and the Violets once again had to call upon their dynamic senior group to produce the clutch plays that define N.Y.U. basketball. The veteran leadership proved to be the game-changer as Yaffe and Karch combined to produce N.Y.U.’s next 6 points and give the home team a 57-56 lead with 2:05 to go.
The Violets held their 1-point lead until the last 5.5 seconds of regulation time. A foul gave Brandeis’s Youri Dascy the chance for the Judges to take the lead or tie the game. But he missed both free-throw attempts. Senior Max Wein quickly scooped up the rebound, but was fouled by the Judges. Wein easily made both free throws and gave the Violets a 3-point lead with four seconds left.
Another late foul by the Violets put one of Brandeis’s best shooters, Alex Stoyle, at the free-throw line. After sinking the first shot, he intentionally missed the second, hoping for a teammate to rebound, but Karch got it first and time expired, giving N.Y.U. the win, 59-57.
The Violets will begin their postseason play Wed., Feb. 27, at home when they host New Jersey City University in the quarterfinals of the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Championship.