WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis University women's basketball jumped out to a 16-2 lead and never looked back, leading wire-to-wire as the Judges defeated Mount Saint Mary (N.Y.) College, 79-52, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament. With the win, Brandeis registers 19 victories in a season for the sixth-straight year and advances to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in school history.
Brandeis (19-7) jumped out to a 16-2 lead with just over five minutes elapsed by hitting their first six shots of the game, while forcing Mount St. Mary (24-5) to miss seven of their first eight. Sophomore Diana Cincotta (W. Boylston, Mass./W. Boylston) and junior Jessica Chapin (Mendon, N.Y./Honeoye Falls-Lima) each had five points in the opening run. With the early 14-point lead established, the Blue Knights had to shoot from deep to try to catch up, but with 3-for-22 shooting from beyond the arc, the visitors were never able to get any closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
Three Brandeis players reached double figures, paced by Chapin's 18. Chapin scored 13 in the first half, when she hit 5-of-9 from the field with a pair of trifectas and a free throw. She also had a game-high seven assists, four coming in the first half. Rookie guard Kelly Ethier (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) came off the bench with a career-high 13 points, seven in the second stanza, hitting on 4-of-7 overall, including both 3-pointers, and 3-of-4 from the line. She also had a career-high three assists. Classmate Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) added 12 points thanks in part to three 3-pointers. Senior Lauren Orlando (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) and Cincotta also both added nine points as well. Sophomore Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere) led all players with eight rebounds (four offensive) off the bench, while senior Cassidy Dadaos (Healdsburg, Calif./Healdsburg) had seven boards.
Against one of the top defensive teams in the NCAA statistics, Brandeis had a fantastic night. The Judges shot 55.3% from the floor against the top-ranked team in shooting defense, as MSMC had held opponents to just 28.7% for the season, while scoring 30 more points against the nation's third-ranked scoring defense, putting up 79 on a team allowing just 48.9 ppg. Brandeis also outrebounded the Blue Knights, 37-29, against a foe that outrebounds their opponents by nearly 11.
Mount St. Mary (24-5) saw its 20-game winning streak snapped despite three players who scored in double figures. Junior Chrissy Zrowka (Brick, N.J/St. Rose) led the Blue Knights with 13 points and a game-high four steals, while classmates Meredith Paggi (Wappingers Falls, N.Y./Our Lady of Lourdes) and Shannon Sangster (Syracuse, N.Y./Bishop Ludden) had 11 and 10 respectively. Senior LaSheila Augustin (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream) led Mount St. Mary with seven rebounds. The Blue Knights were held to just 34.5% shooting from the field (19-55), including their 3-for-22 performance from deep (13.6%).
The Judges will take on Muhlenberg College, 58-57 winners over Bowdoin, next weekend at Amherst College. Game time is 5 p.m., with tickets costing $7 for adults and $4 for students. The winner of that game will meet either Amherst or NYU in the Elite Eight on Saturday at 6 p.m.