DePalo's big day can't derail No. 12 Rochester, as women fall, 61-50

Mia DePalo '11 (Photo by SportsPix)
Mia DePalo '11 (Photo by SportsPix)

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University women's basketball senior Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) scored a career-high 21 points, but she was eclipsed by University of Rochester senior Melissa Alwardt (Greece, N.Y./Greece Athena), who scored all of her game-high 22 points in the second half as the 12th-ranked Yellowjackets topped the Judges, 61-50, in a University Athletic Association contest in Red Auerbach Arena today. Alwardt hit 12-of-12 from the free throw line, pacing a 25-5 scoring edge from the line for the visitors in the win. With the victory, Rochester improves to 14-4 (4-3 UAA), while Brandeis falls to 10-8 (2-5 UAA).

The Judges fell despite DePalo's career day. She had 10 points in the first half and 11 in the second, as she connected on 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-7 from 3-point range. DePalo eclipsed her previous career-best, set Jan. 14 at Carnegie Mellon, by eight points.

Junior Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) added 13 points, hitting 5-of-16 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line. Four Brandeis players tied for team-high honors with five rebounds, including Kendrew, sophomore Samantha Anderson (Johnsonville, N.Y./Hoosic Valley) and junior Brighid Courtney (Southampton, Mass./Northampton). Rookie Julia Scanlon (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris) led all players with four assists.

For Rochester, Alwardt busted out in the second half. After missing all four of her shots from 3-point range in the first half, she connected on 4-of-9 from the field and 2-of-5 from deep to go along with her perfect 12-for-12 from the line. Alwardt also grabbed eight rebounds. The Yellowjackets also got a fine performance from junior forward Jodie Luther (Gibsonia, Pa./Hampton), who recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. She hit 6-of-14 from the field and 3-of-6 from the line.

Rochester tallied the game's first six points, all from Luther. They were ahead by as many as nine points following a Luther foul shot at 18-9 with 9:24 left before the break before the Judges rallied. Kendrew scored on back-to-back lay-ups and senior forward Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere) took a feed from rookie Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomeraug) that trimmed the lead to 18-15 less than 90 seconds later.

After a Luther jumper halted Brandeis's progress, DePalo answered with her second 3-pointer of the half to get the Judges within two, but it was a Kendrew jumper as the shot clock wound down with 18 seconds left in the half that knotted the score at 24-24. Scanlon blocked a shot from Rochester sophomore Kristyn Wright (Rocky Hill, Conn./East Catholic) just before the end of the half to preserve the tie. DePalo and Luther each had 10 points at the break.

Coming out of the locker room, DePalo banked home a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Judges their first lead at 27-24. After Alwardt and Strodthoff traded lay-ups on the next two possessions, Alwardt connected from downtown to knot the game again. A Luther lay-up on a feed from Wright gave the visitors the lead back, but Brandeis couldn't answer at the other end as DePalo missed her only two foul shots of the game. Alwardt's jumper after a pair of Jackie Walker (Ann Arbor, Mich./Green Hills) offensive rebounds pushed the lead back to 33-29, Rochester.

The teams traded hoops again, and the Judges got a couple of defensive stops. They couldn't convert a couple of lay-ups that would have tied the game, but two free throws from sophomore Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./Hanover (N.H.)) evened the score at 35-35 with 13:24 left on the clock.

After two Alwardt foul shots and a Scanlon jumper knotted the game at 37-37 with 12:55 remaining, the Yellowjackets went on the decisive run of the game, scoring the game's next 10 points. Luther hit one-of-two from the line to put UR ahead, and Alwardt scored five more to make it a two-possession game at 43-37 just over midway through the second half. The contest went scoreless for more than two minutes, with both teams missing some open looks before UR scored four more points from Walker and Wright. DePalo connected off the glass from deep for the third time in the game to stop the run and make it 47-40, Rochester, at the 7:16 mark, but the Judges could never get any closer than seven points the rest of the way. UR hit 10 foul shots in a row at one point to hold the Judges at bay.

These two teams will meet again a week from today in Rochester on Feb. 6 in a 2 p.m. tip after the Judges head to Emory next Friday at 8 p.m. and the Yellowjackets host NYU the same time in UAA action.