The Yellowjackets continued to steamroll throughout the East Coast, routing conference opponents New York University and Brandeis University to improve their record to 19-3 overall and 9-2 in the UAA.
“I am surprised and pleased,” head coach Mike Neer said of the Yellowjackets’ dominating performance over NYU and Brandeis in the depths of an arduous schedule that has left the squad playing away from home nine of the last eleven games.
The matchup was no contest for UR, as the Yellowjackets faced off against the NYU Violets Friday night in New York City. Shooting 64 percent from the floor in the first half by UR and a stifling defense that limited NYU to four of 19 shots contributed to a 31-point lead at halftime.
“I didn’t expect to have such a large lead at the half,” Neer said after the game. “But our inside people made a lot of shots while NYU didn’t have much success offensively.”
With such a large point surplus, the Yellowjackets were able to experiment with a variety of different schemes and combinations while giving the five starters a much needed rest in the second half. By game’s end, the Yellowjackets had netted a satisfying 87-58 win over the Violets and were looking toward Sunday’s contest versus Brandeis in Waltham, Mass.
Against the Judges, UR wasted little time jumping ahead, seizing an eight-point lead in the game’s first five minutes. Brandeis fought back, though, and pulled even at 10-10.
It was a low-scoring half for both teams. Brandeis played a soft zone and significantly slowed down the speed of play while forcing the Yellowjackets to make numerous lateral passes. Nevertheless, UR was able to enter the locker room at halftime with a comfortable seven-point lead over the Judges.
The Yellowjackets emerged revitalized from the energy-sapping first half, commencing a 13-4 point run over Brandeis that increased their lead to nineteen. Sophomore forward Ross Briggs hit a lay-up with 5:07 left on the clock to increase UR’s lead to 22 points, the Yellowjackets’ largest margin of the game. The Yellowjackets would go on to score only one point in the last five minutes, but were able to sustain their generous lead and walked away with a 59-47 win.
“The score appears closer than the contest was in reality,” Neer said of the victory over Brandeis.
Both wins also marked signifcant team milestones. The victories were the 1100th and 1110st in the history of UR men’s basketball.
Neer has been on the sidelines for 422 of the triumphs, a school coaching record.
The Yellowjackets’ rich basketball history also includes 11 NCAA Tournmament appearances, three Final Fours and the school’s lone national championship in 1990.
The focus of the men’s squad however lies in a pair of games this weekend at home against UAA foes University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis.
“Chicago and Washington are substantially stronger teams and we will have to be sharper this weekend,” Neer said. “We are glad this part of the season [with 9 of our 11 games on the road] is over but our next few games are essential to remain in NCAA contention.”
Neer is especially hopeful of the advantage that a home crowd and fan base can provide as the season hits a critical period. “We’ve done well at home and enjoyed having fans see us play. We will definitely need them this weekend. I would really love to have the place packed Friday night.”
Schloss can be reached at email@example.com.