Tough defense leads women to sixth-straight win, 65-56, over Carnegie Mellon

Angela Miller '14 (photo by Sportspix.biz/Mike Broglio)

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Brandeis University women's basketball team won its sixth-straight game today, defeating visiting Carnegie Mellon, 65-56, in a defensive struggle. The Judges improve to 12-8 overall, 6-3 in the University Athletic Association (UAA). Their six-game winning streak is their longest since they won 10 in a row to start the 2008-09 season. It is also their first run of six in a row in the UAA since the 2003-04 campaign. Carnegie Mellon falls to 11-9, 2-7 UAA.

The Judges shot just 33 percent for the game (19-57), but they held the Tartans even lower at 26 percent (16-61). Brandeis held the lead at the half for the first time during their streak, 32-27, as CMU hit just two of their first 23 field goal attempts. Brandeis never trailed in the first 20 minutes. Their largest lead was eight, but a Paris Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton) 3-pointer with three seconds to go made it a five-point halftime advantage. Brandeis's Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans) and Carnegie Mellon's Liza Otto (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury) each had eight points in the first, but both did most of their scoring at the free-throw line.

CMU wasted little time in the second half getting back into the game. The visitors opened on an 8-2 run, taking their first and only lead of the game, 35-34, at the 17:21 mark on a pair of Otto foul shots. Brandeis answered with the next seven points, sparked by a Samantha Mancinelli (Durham, Conn./Coginchaug Regional) 3-pointer from the corner, and the Judges never trailed again.

The hosts were unable to pull away, as Carnegie Mellon tied the contest again at 46-46 with just under 12 minutes to go on a Jacquie Shaw (Portland, Ore./Grant) mid-range jumper. After the teams traded empty possessions, Brandeis rookie center Maria Jackson (Rochester, N.Y./Hilton) answered on a feed from Hodges to snap the tie for good. Brandeis didn't put the game away until late as they struggled from the foul line, but the Judges' defense finished the same strong way they started. They held CMU to just one field goal on their final nine shots. Leading 55-54 with just 3:28 to play, the Judges closed the game on a 10-2 run, with Jackson contributing the only two buckets as free throws finally started to fall, leading to the 65-56 final.

Six Brandeis players scored between seven and 12 points. Jackson led the team in scoring for the third game in a row with 12 points on the afternoon's best shooting performance, hitting 5-of-8 from the floor with two free throws. Ten of her 12 points came in the second half. Jackson also had four offensive rebounds and five total caroms.

Senior Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) matched Jackson with 12 points, but needed 3-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-10 from the line to get there. Dean also had seven rebounds and four steals. Hodges finished with nine points and a game-high four assists. Rodriguez had eight points and three blocked shots, while senior Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) had seven points, seven boards and two blocks. Mancinelli rounded out the balanced scorers with seven points. Senior reserve center Angela Miller (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek) pulled down a team-high eight rebounds (four offensive), matching her career-best. Miller helped the Judges to a 50-39 rebounding advantage.

CMU was paced by rookie Lisa Murphy (McLean, Va./McLean), who led all players with 16 points and 13 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season, second-most in the UAA. No other Tartan player had more than five rebounds. Shaw and Otto also had 10 points for the contest.

Brandeis returns to action next Friday evening at home at 6 p.m. when they take on second-ranked Washington University in St. Louis. Carnegie Mellon is home against #20 Emory at the same time.