Defense turns on clamps as No. 12 women top Babson, 81-57

WALTHAM, Mass. - After a slow start in which they faced their biggest deficit of the season, the 12th-ranked Brandeis University women's basketball team held visiting Babson to just 25 percent shooting in the second half as the Judges cruised to an 81-57 win in Red Auerbach Arena. With the win, the Judges improve to 8-0 on the season and take a 22-20 lead in the all-time series, the most-played in Brandeis history. The Beavers fall to 4-2.

Brandeis struggled at the start of the game, as Babson scored the first eight points, hitting four of their first six shots with a pair of offensive rebounds on the two misses. The deficit was still seven points, 18-11, on a lay-up by Beaver junior forward Sarah Hughes (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) with 9:34 left in the first half.

Brandeis then went on a key run, holding the Beavers without a field goal over the next seven-and-a-half minutes, outscoring the visitors by a 22-5 over that span. The run was jumpstarted by back-to-back 3-pointers by junior guard Jessica Chapin (Mendon, N.Y./Honeote Falls-Lima) and sophomore backcourt mate Diana Cincotta (W. Boylston, Mass./W. Boylston). Chapin's backdoor lay-up on a feed from senior forward Cassidy Dadaos (Healdsburg, Calif./Healdsburg) gave Brandeis its first lead, 19-18.

The lead would change hands two more times at the free-throw line, but four different Judges scored on the next four Brandeis possessions to give the hosts a 33-23 lead with 3:23 remaining. The Beavers would get their touch back, climbing within five on a trifecta by rookie forward Michelle Kenel (Rockaway Beach, N.Y./Bishop Kearney), but the Judges carried a 39-32 lead into the break. Chapin led all players with 13 points at intermission, while rookie Nicole Wurdeman (Rowley, Mass./Triton Regional) had 11 for the Beavers. Brandeis used a 15-3 advantage in points off turnovers to offset Babson's 50% shooting from the field (10-20) in the first, including making both their 3-point shots.

Taking a seven-point lead into the second half, Brandeis's defense took over. The Judges held Babson to just four points on 2-for-11 shooting over the first 9:12 of the stanza. They also converted seven turnovers into 12 points in that span to take a 63-36 lead. The margin would balloon to as many as 30 points before the Judges cruised to the 24-point victory.

For Brandeis, Chapin had a team-high 19 points on 6-of-12 from the field, 2-of-3 from downtown and 5-of-7 from the line. She also had game-highs with five assists and three steals. Junior Lauren Rashford (Whitesboro, N.Y./Whitesboro) was the only other Brandeis player to reach double figures with 11 points, nine coming in the second half, including a 7-of-8 performance from the line. Cincotta hit all three of her shots from beyond the arc to finish with nine points in just 13 minutes. Dadaos led all players with seven rebounds and added four assists. Senior Amanda Wells (Loudon, N.H./Merrimack Valley) had three helpers, tying a career high as the Judges had 20 assists on 24 baskets. They finished with a 27-11 advantage in points off turnovers and 29-13 margin in bench points as all but two active players on the roster scored points.

Babson put three players in double figures, led by Wurdemann, who tied for game-high honors with 19 points. She connected on 6-of-14 from the field with a 3-pointer and made all six of her free throws. She also paced the Beavers with six rebounds. Sophomore Becky Bowman (Melrose, Mass./Arlington Catholic) added 13 points on 4-of-8 with a trifecta and four foul shots, while Kenel finished with 10 points and a team-high three assists and two steals off the bench.

Brandeis is next in action on New Years Eve at 1:00 p.m. against Regis, while Babson is at Salem State on Dec. 8 at 7:00 p.m.

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