March 4, 2006

Brandeis women rally but fall short at Bowdoin, 59-56

The Brandeis University women's basketball team ended their season in exciting fashion tonight, taking the host Bowdoin College Polar Bears' 70-game home winning streak to the brink before falling, 59-56, in the second round of the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament.

Brandeis (20-5) saw its own 30-game non-conference and seven-game postseason streaks snapped as Jaime Capra's (Old Bridge, N.J.) desperation midcourt 3-pointer hit the rim and went awry. The Judges fell behind early, 12-2, to start the game, but answered with a 15-7 run of their own to climb within two with 7:17 left on a Christine Clancy (Yarmouth, Maine) jumper. Bowdoin's fast-break offense clicked at the end of the half, and the Polar Bears rode a 6-0 run to an eight-point halftime lead, 30-22.

The second stanza was a cat-and-mouse game, as the Judges climbed within three points on four different occasions, but Bowdoin went on a mini-run, taking a 45-37 lead on a lay-up by senior Justine Pouravelis (Old Orchard Beach, Maine) with 9:54 remaining. Brandeis answered with an 8-2 run over their own, getting to within 47-45 with 7:21 left on Caitlin Malcolm's (Windsor Locks, N.J.) jumper. The teams went into an extended offensive funk, going almost three minutes before the Polar Bears extended the lead back to four despite four Brandeis attempts to tie the contest.

Brandeis finally tied the score at 56-56 when Alison Chase (Farmington, Conn.) drained a trifecta from the corner with 1:31 on the clock, but the Polar Bears answered as Pouravelis took a feed from Vanessa Russell (Tewksbury, Mass.) and went up-and-under the Brandeis defense for what proved to be the game-winner. Brandeis twice in the final minute was able to penetrate into the post, but were unable to draw a foul. Bowdoin missed three of four foul shots in the final minute, but Brandeis was unable to take advantage.

The Judges were led by 14 points each from Chase and Malcolm. Chase hit six-of-nine from the floor with two 3-pointers, including the key hoop at the end of the contest. Malcolm scored 12 of her 14 points in the second half, hitting five-of-seven from the floor after the break. Malcolm and Clancy tied for team-high honors with six rebounds, while senior Amanda Demartino (Toms River, N.J.) ended her career with a game-high five assists.

Junior Eileen Flaherty (Fairfield, Conn.) led all scorers with 18 points, 11 in the first half. She scored 10 of the Polar Bears' first 12 points and also led all players with nine rebounds. Pouravelis added 13 poinrs and sophomore Marissa Berne (Falmouth, Maine) had 10. Bowdoin outrebounded Brandeis, 40-27, including 17-4 on the offensive glass.