POUGHKEEPSIE – Junior Zach Johnson grabbed 20 rebounds to set a new Vassar men’s basketball single-game record as the Brewers downed the Dutchmen 70-57 on Tuesday evening. The forward also recorded his sixth double-double by adding 20 points.
The Brewers jumped out to a 5-0 lead behind an Ethan Eilis three-pointer, and then Johnson tipped in a shot at 17:22. Union’s Brian Noone cut the lead to two after a triple, but juniors Avni Mustafaj and Zev Katz scored inside to push the lead to 9-4.
Vassar continued to build a first-half lead when first-year Luke Adams fed senior Neville Lee at the top of the arc for the open three-pointer to give the Brewers a ten-point lead. Then a hot-shooting Kevin McAuliffe drained two-straight triples to make the score 22-8 at 7:42.
The Dutchmen kept the game within reach, but then a 7-0 Brewers’ run capped off by a Katz triple gave Vassar its largest lead of the night at 17 points. Union scored the final four points of the half to make it 31-18 heading into the break. In the first half, Vassar held Union to 7-of-30 (23.3 percent) while shooting 13-of-29 with five made threes.
Union played a much more up-tempo style of play in the second half, disrupting the Brewers’ offense with a full-court press. Justin Regis and George Temi made two steals in the first two minutes of the half, and Regis capitalized by hitting a three at 18:42 to make it a ten-point game again. Teams traded baskets until McAuliffe hit another three to spur a 12-0 Vassar run to make it 50-27 with 12 minutes remaining.
The Brewers built the lead to 55-30 following another Katz three-pointer and a quick mid-range jumper by Adams. Vassar appeared to be in control with less than ten minutes left to play, but the Dutchmen fought until the end. Union responded with a 19-4 run until 1:28 to cut the lead to 58-50. The Dutchmen began to intentionally foul each Brewer possession, but Mustafaj came up clutch by converting eight free throws in the final minute.
As a team, the Vassar defense held Union to a 30.2 percent field goal percentage while allowing just four three-pointers (19.0 percent). The Brewers dominated the boards 51-32 and, on the offense, shot 9-of-19 from three-point range (47.4 percent).
Johnson led the team with 19 points, 20 rebounds, and four assists. McAuliffe finished the game with 15 points behind 5-of-6, shooting from beyond the arc. Katz improved his career-best total to ten points, while Mustafaj added ten points.
For Union, George led the team with 17 points and four steals, while Mike Manley added 12 points. Mike Caporale recorded a team-high ten reboundss.