ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Behind 36 points from All-American guard John DiBartolomeo, 29 in the second half, No. 2 Rochester rallied to pull out a 69-65 victory against No. 19 Brandeis on Sunday at the Louis Alexander Palestra.
DiBartolomeo made 19 of 19 free throws, breaking both the Palestra and Rochester single-game records. The previous mark was 18 by Jim Klimschot set in 1978 vs. RIT. DiBartolomeo also tied the University Athletic Association record for made free throws. It was set by Charlie Borsheim of Washington University at Emory in 1993.
“U of R has probably the best player in the country in Johnny [DiBartolomeo],” Brandeis head coach Brian Meehan said of the defending University Athletic Association Player of the Year.
DiBartolomeo’s effort offset three men in double figures for Brandeis. Ben Bartholdus and Gabriel Moton scored 21 points each. Youri Dascy added 14 points.
The Yellowjackets, who staged an 11-4 rally in the closing minutes, improved to 18-0 and 7-0 in the UAA. Rochester, just one of two undefeated teams in Division III, sits two games ahead of Brandeis and Emory in the UAA standings. The Judges dropped to 14-4 and 5-2 in the UAA.
Despite DiBartolomeo’s brilliance, eight players scored for the Yellowjackets.
“U of R has so many weapons,” Meehan said.
In contrast, seven of the 12 players who saw game action for Brandeis did not score.
“We have enough guys to do it,” Meehan said.
Brandeis led Rochester 29-25 at halftime, as Bartoldus scored 12 points. The Judges held the Yellowjackets, a team shooting a UAA-leading 51 percent from the floor, to just 33 percent in the first half. It was only the third time this season Rochester trailed at the break.
“Defense has been the strength of our team all season long,” Meehan said. “I thought we did a pretty good job all game long.”
In the second half, the Judges went ahead by as many as eight at 50-42 after a Bartoldus trey. At that point, DiBartolomeo caught fire, scoring 18 of his team’s final 23 points during the final eight minutes of play.
It began with DiBartolomeo scoring seven consecutive points — a three-pointer, two free throws and a jumper in the paint — to get the Yellowjackets within 50-49 with 5:47 remaining.
Dascy was fouled by Nate Vernon on a drive and knocked down two free throws but DiBartolomeo evened it with another 3-pointer. The game was tied two more times. Brandeis took what turned out to be its last lead, 59-56 with 2:53 left, on a conventional three-point play by Bartholdus.
DiBartolomeo made two free throws to get it within one, then found Kevin Sheehy for a 3-pointer that gave Rochester its first outright lead, 61-59 with 1:55 left, since early in the first half. The Judges tied it twice — a pair of free throws by Moton, then a layup by Dascy.
DiBartolomeo sank two free throws after a foul by Bartholdus for a 65-63 lead. At the other end, Bartholdus missed a mid-range jumper and Tyler Sankes rebounded. He got the ball to DiBartolomeo who made two free throws with 11 seconds left.
Moton sank two free throws with eight seconds left before DiBartolomeo, who scored Rochester’s final eight points from the line, added two more to ice the game.
“At halftime, we regrouped and started to trust what we do a little bit better,” Rochester head coach Luke Flockerzi said. “We were able to bear down on defense and we held on long enough to finally get the lead late in the game.”
Meehan agreed. “I thought we went too much one on one,” he said. “U of R did a good job defending us. We’ve got to hit shots.”
Brandeis, which hit 50 percent from 3-point range (8 of 16) in the first half, were just 3-for-8 in the second half. The Judges shot 46 percent (23-50) overall.
Brandeis Athletics contributed to this report.