PHILADELPHIA – The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) men's basketball team (2-2) dropped a Saturday matinee to No. 18 Merrimack (1-0) by a final of 61-56 in an East Region Conference Challenge matchup from Holy Family University.
Sophomore Josh Bradanese led the Rams and tied a game-high with 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting with four made three-pointers on the afternoon. Freshman Alexander Gorton finished with 10 points and eight rebounds while senior Kaison Randolph recorded eight points and grabbed team-high 12 boards.
Jefferson took a 31-25 lead into halftime. Bradanese and Gorton were each in double figures after 20 minutes to play while Randolph crashed the boards for nine rebounds as the Rams shot 41.4% as a team in the first half with four threes.
Jefferson was up 18-11 early after a basket from senior Yevgen, Sakhniuk with under 12 minutes to play in the opening half. Merrimack responded with a 10-point run before Gorton tied it up 21-21 with under five minutes. Jefferson closed the half behind a three by Bradanese, a tip-in by Randolph, a three by Gorton and a jumper by sophomore Prince Hickson to take the six-point advantage into the break, 31-25.
Merrimack's Juvaris Hayes scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half as the Warriors shot 48.1% from the field in the final 20 minutes. Bradanese scored 13 in the second half with nine coming behind the arc as a tough Merrimack defense limited Jefferson to 29.6% shooting.
After losing the lead, Jefferson went back ahead at 40-39 with under 13 minutes to play in regulation. Merrimack went on a 10-point run to go up 49-43 before a Bradanese three got the Rams within six with under 10 minutes to play. The sophomore scored the next four points for the Rams to get the squad back within two at 49-47 with 5:43 remaining.
Merrimack extended the lead a bit before Randolph hit a three with 1:37 to play to get back within five. Hayes hit a pair of free throws for Merrimack with under a minute to put the Warriors back up by seven and to hold on for the 61-56 win.
Jefferson Men's Basketball closes the weekend out on Sunday against American International at noon from Holy Family University.