ATLANTA, Ga. -- The Brandeis University women's basketball team was unable to overcome one of their worst shooting days of the season, as the 13th-ranked Judges fell to host Emory University, 69-56, after shooting just 29 percent from the field (20-67). With the loss, Brandeis falls to 12-3, 2-3 in the UAA, while Emory moves to 10-6, 1-4 UAA.
Emory never trailed in the contest. The teams traded 3-pointers on their first possessions, but Emory junior LeShonda Lillard (Bloomington, Ind./South) answered with another trifecta, touching off a 7-0 run. The Eagles led by as many as 13 points in the first half, the latest coming at 33-20 with 1:48 remaining. Brandeis scored the last two buckets of the stanza, both by junior forward Kasey Gieschen (Boonton Lakes, N.J./Mountain Township) to trim the deficit to 33-24 at the break.
The Judges extended the run in the opening moments of the first half, starting with a Jessica Chapin (Mendon, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) trifecta. A lay-up by senior forward Cassidy Dadaos (Healdsburg, Calif./Healdsburg) got Brandeis within 33-29 with just over two minutes elapsed in the second. The visitors had three attempts to get within a basket, but could not convert.
Emory reclaimed the momentum with a Mary Smith (Houston, Texas/Bellaire) 3-pointer, touching off a string of four trifectas in a five-possession stretch. Junior Whitney Martin (Barrington, Ill./Barrington) connected from deep to put the lead back to double digits, and after Smith and sophomore Courtney Von Stein (Trafalgar, Ind./Indian Creek) hit from long range, the Eagles were up by 16, 45-29, with 13:56 left in the contest. The lead grew to 17 points on a Lora Turner (Florence, Ala./Mars Hills Bible School) free throw with 11:58 remaining and was still there after another Turner bucket with 10:34 on the clock.
Brandeis would not go away, however, as they embarked on a 14-3 run over the next 6 minutes. A trifecta from sophomore guard Diana Cincotta (W. Boylston, Mass./W. Boylston) got the lead back to single digits, and a pair of Chapin foul shots brought the Judges within six, 55-49, with just over four minutes on the clock. After Lillard missed the front end of a one-and-one on the next possession, Brandeis had a chance to climb even close, but Chapin's shot was off the mark and she was called for a foul on the rebound. Lillard converted this time and the Eagles were able to pull away at the free throw line.
Lillard led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 5-of-10 from the field, 2-of-4 from deep, and a remarkable 14-of-15 performance from the line. She also had a game-high five assists. Turner also reached double figures on 6-of-9 from the field and 2-of-4 from the line. Martin had a fine all-around game for the hosts, with seven points, a game-high eight rebounds, four assists and five blocked shots. The Eagles shot 46 percent for the game (23-50).
Brandeis had two players in double figures, as Gieschen and Chapin each scored 10 points. Gieschen had eight in the first half, while Chapin had eight in the second, but shot just 2-of-11 for the game from the floor. She had two 3-pointers and four free throws. Dadaos finished with eighr rebounds, tying for game-high honors, and matched teammate Lauren Rashford (Whitesboro, N.Y./Whitesboro) for team-high with three assists. Rashford also had five steals to lead all players. The Judges outrebounded Emory, 45-32, including 22-7 on the offensive glass, but could not overcome their poor shooting performance.