WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team couldn't hang on to a six-point lead today, as visiting Case Western Reserve University scored 10-straight points midway through the second half and the Spartans hung on to defeat the Judges, 49-45. Brandeis falls to 11-11, 3-8 in the University Athletic Association, while the Spartans improve to 12-10, 6-5 UAA.
The first half saw four ties and three lead changes as both squads got off to slow starts offensively. Brandeis owned a lead as large as five points in the first, but the game was tied, 16-16, with 1:18 left before the break. Sophomore forward Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./Hanover, N.H.) scored the last two buckets of the stanza in the paint for the Judges, giving them a 20-16 lead. The Judges held Case to just 6-of-28 shooting from the floor (21.4%) and owned a 26-13 edge in rebounding, but a 10-4 Spartan advantage in turnovers kept the visitors in the contest. Brandeis senior Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) and Case junior Erin Hollinger (Chardon, Ohio/Chardon) tied for game-high honors with seven first-half points.
DePalo opened the second-half scoring with a jumper to give Brandeis its biggest lead of the game, but the Judges wouldn't hit another field goal for another 5:44. The Spartans scored seven straight points to claim a 23-22 lead on a traditional three-point play by Hollinger at the 17:27 mark. Brandeis junior guard Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) got an offensive rebound and was fouled, hitting both free throws to give the 24-23 lead back to the Judges. A DePalo steal and lay-up broke the cold string from the floor and made it a three-point game, but Spartan sophomore Erica Iafelice (North Canton, Ohio/Canton Hoover) answered with a trifecta that knotted the game at 26-26.
That bomb sparked the key run of the game for Case. They scored the next 10 in a row over two minutes, capped by another three-point play by senior Caitlin Henry (Fairfax, Va./Robinson) to make it 33-26, Case, with 12:13 left. Brandeis responded with back-to-back buckets by Kendrew and senior Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere) to get the lead down to three, 33-30, at the 9:31 mark. Henry responded for the Spartans with back-to-back 3-pointers, including one bomb from 25 feet out that pushed the lead back to nine, 39-30, less than 90 seconds later.
The Judges were able to get within three points with 3:27 on the clock, thanks to a four-point possession. Strodthoff put back up an offensive rebound and was fouled in the act, and though she missed the free throw, DePalo grabbed the miss. Rookie guard Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomeraug) scored on the ensuing possession to get Brandeis within 43-40. Hollinger responded on the other end, and though the Judges got some stops, and the Spartans missed a pair of front ends of one-and-one opportunities, the Judges couldn't answer and ultimately fell by five, 49-45.
In the final home game of the season, Brandeis was paced by Kendrew, who finished with 13 points, but needed 5-of-17 from the floor and 1-of-7 from 3-point range to get there. DePalo finished with 11 points, her seven double-figure scoring game of the season. Brandeis finished with a 43-31 rebounding edge, with Ness leading the way for the second game in a row with nine, and Dean added a career-high eight. Ness also had a team- and career-high three assists.
Case had the game's two top scorers, as Hollinger had 18 and Henry added 15. Both players scored 11 points in the second half, combining for just three fewer than the entire Brandeis squad. Hollinger topped the Spartans with eight rebounds, as the visitors had an 18-17 edge on the glass in the second half. Case also shot 52.2 percent in the second (12-23) and outscored Brandeis 9-3 from the free throw line.
The Judges finish their schedule with a three-game road trip, starting in Chicago next Friday night at 6 p.m. Central. The game will be broadcast on 100.1 WBRS-FM and on-line at http://www.wbrs.org along with the men's game at 8 p.m. Central.