March 3, 2006

Brandeis women's hoops wins first-ever NCAA game, 63-59, over Salem State

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Senior center Christine Clancy (Yarmouth, Maine) scored a season-high 19 points tonight to lead the Brandeis University women's basketball team to its first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, 63-59, over Salem State College. The game was played at Bowdoin College and the Judges will take on the host Polar Bears, who defeated Colby-Sawyer, tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for students and children.

Brandeis (20-4) won its 30th straight non-conference game with the victory, as well as its seventh postseason game in a row. In addition to Clancy's game-high 19 points, which came on 8-of-13 shooting from the floor with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws, two other Judges reached double figures. Junior Jaime Capra had 12 points, eight in the first half, while junior Alison Chase added 10 points, all in the second half. Chase had a pair of key trifectas, hit all four free throws and added four assists. Junior forward Caitlin Malcolm had seven points and a team-high seven rebounds, while senior guard Amanda DeMartino matched Chase for team-high with four helpers.

Salem State (23-5) ended its season despite 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots from senior center Estrella Kuilan. After going 6-for-8 in the first half with 13 points, the Judges held the MASCAC Player of the Year to just 1-of-6 in the second half. Sophomore forward Lindsey Watkins added 12 points on 4-of-8 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the line for the Vikings, while rookie guard Allyson Vaccaro scored 10 off the bench with a pair from long range.

Brandeis held a couple of early leads, bit Salem State scored seven unanswered points to take a 9-4 lead at the 16:16 mark, eventually going up by seven, 18-11, on a lay-up by sophomore guard Melissa Macchi. The Judges answered with a 12-4 run over the next eight minutes, reclaiming the lead on a fast-break lay-up off a Chase steal and Clancy lay-up. The lead changed hands five times the rest of the way with SSC taking the lead into the break, 33-32.

The second half opened ugly, with neither team scoring for the first 3:15 until a Capra put-back. The teams traded 5-0 runs, with a trifecta by sophomore Kiersten Holgash and a Malcolm lay-in giving Brandeis a 41-38 lead with 12:56 on the clock. SSC answered with a 9-0 run over the next three minutes with four different players scoring in the run. Watkins' jumper on a feed from Kuilan at 9:14 gave the Vikings their biggest lead of the second half, 47-41, with 9:14 remaing.

At that point, the Judges went on a decisive 13-2 run as their outside shooting got hot. Chase hit from the corner to stop SSC's srteak and cut the lead in half. She assisted Clancy to get Brandeis back within one, but Katelynn Lunnin scored to briefly halt the Judges' momentum. Rookie Lauren Orlando got it right back with a trifecta from the top of the key, tying the game at 49-49 with just under seven minutes left.

After an SSC turnover, Chase hit two free throws to give Brandeis a lead they wouldn't relinquish, and she added to the lead with another trifecta, pushing the lead to 54-49 with 5:29 left. Salem State would climb within three points twice after that, but a Capra jumper with 3:44 left gave Brandeis a two-possession lead and the Judges hung on for the four-point win.