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Women’s basketball ends break on a high note

By Kara Karter

Section: Sports

February 26, 2010

FIGHTING FOR THE BALL: Brandeis University’s Diana Cincotta (No. 15, left) tries to swat the ball away from Washington University guard Stacy Niese (No. 25, left), during Brandeis’ 50-37 loss two Fridays ago.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

The majority of Brandeis students entered mid-February break looking for a chance to get away, for a chance to relax. For the Brandeis women’s basketball team, there would be no break. There would be no chance to relax.

With four games on tap during the hiatus that wasn’t (including one against each of the University Athletic Association’s top three squads) the women dropped the first pair, losing at home to the conference leading Washington University Bears (22-2, 12-1) and the University of Chicago Maroons (19-5, 11-2). They rebounded by sweeping the subsequent road contests at Rochester (18-6, 8-5) and Emory (10-14, 3-10).

With one game left to play, the Judges sit in fourth place in the UAA with an overall record of 15-8. They are 8-5 in conference play.

The Judges took to the court against WashU riding a four game winning streak and the enthusiasm of the crowd at Red Auerbach Arena. Momentum and cheers aside, an upset was not in the cards. It didn’t take long for the visiting Bears to show why they entered the match as the 7th ranked team in the nation (according to D3Hoops.com), arriving at a 10-2 lead less than five minutes into the contest. The Judges were held to 13 points in the first half on 25 percent shooting, as WashU clawed its way to a 50-37 victory. It was both teams’ lowest offensive output of the season.

Senior Guard Jessica Chapin ’10 led the Judges with 13 points, while Forward Shannon Ingram ’13 grabbed a career high eight boards. No other Brandeis player was able to break through for more than 4 points against the strong Bears’ defense. Three WashU players – Grad Student Jamie McFarlin, Zoe Unruh ’10, and Janice Evans ’10, all reached double-digits.

Even with Ingram’s career night, the rebounding game belonged to the Bears. The 36-27 advantage helped WashU score 13 second chance points, compared to Brandeis ’12.

The Judges hoped to return to their winning ways two days later against the University of Chicago. Despite another double-digit performance from Chapin (14 points), the Judges were unable to avenge their earlier loss to the Maroons, falling to their UAA rivals 49-47.

Brandeis got off to a better start than it did two days prior, jumping out to a game high 7 point lead on a layup from Mia DePaolo ’11 with 4:16 left in the first half. After twenty minutes of play, the Judges led 25-22.

Despite Brandeis’ early advantage, the game would become a back-and-forth affair, with nine ties and 11 lead changes, including six and five respectively in the final 14 minutes of play.

The Maroons would get the last laugh after a foul on Kasey Gieschen ’10 and two made free throws turned a 47-46 Brandeis lead into a 48-47 deficit with 56 seconds to play. Carmela Breslin’s ’10 desperate heave at the buzzer failed to fall through, ensuring Chicago’s 49-47 victory.

The Judges then embarked on their final UAA road trip of the season, with stops at both Rochester and Emory. After scoring only a combined 84 points during the previous weekend’s games, Brandeis totaled 67 against Rochester, topping the Yellow Jackets by a score of 67-65. It was an inspiring victory for the Judges, who trailed early and often. Down 43-25 at the start of the second half, the Judges saw Rochester’s lead balloon to 20 on a made three-pointer with 14:41 left in the competition.

A 25-5 run, culminated by a layup from Forward Amber Strodthoff ’11 evened the score at 54 with 6:03 left in regulation. The game’s only previous tie had been at 0-0, lasting ten seconds until Jodie Luther’s ‘12 bucket put Rochester up 2-0.

Brandeis claimed its first lead on a Morgan Kendrew ‘12 three with 5:23 to play. Held without a field goal for over fourteen minutes of action (at which point they led 53-33), the ‘Jackets finally nailed a shot from the floor with 13 seconds remaining. After a collection of shot clock violations, turnovers, and missed baskets, however, it was a case of too little too late for Rochester. Two successful shots at the charity stripe from Diana Cincotta ’11 sealed the deal for the Judges, who left the Palestra at Rochester with a 67-65 victory that had, minutes before, seemed utterly improbable.

Three Judges recorded double-digit point totals along the way. Strodthoff’s 15, Kendrew’s 17, and Sophomore Shannon Hassan’s 12 paced the Judges, who shot an impressive 47.8 percent from the floor in the second half.

Brandeis then journeyed down to Atlanta to take on Emory’s Eagles. Surely, the Judges hadn’t forgotten their 73-65 loss to Emory on January 24, arguably the team’s most disappointing defeat of the season.

The Judges pulled a WashU on Emory, holding the Eagles to under 40 points on route to a 58-38 Brandeis victory. Brandeis never trailed and the game was tied only once, at 15-all with nine minutes remaining before intermission.

The star of the game was Junior Guard Strodthoff, who had recorded her fourth double-double of the season by halftime. Her sixteen points and a career-high 17 boards led the team. Strodthoff’s two blocks and steals were also career bests.

Strodthoff’s efforts in the wins over both Rochester and Emory earned her the title of UAA Athlete of the Week.  It was her first time receiving this honor. She averaged 15.5 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting 63.2 percent (12-19) from the floor and 85.7 percent (6-7) from the free throw line. It was the third time in the last four weeks a member of the Brandeis women’s basketball received the award. Chapin was singled out for her great performance by the UAA for the weeks of Feb. 1 and Feb. 8.

The Judges will play their final game of the regular season on Saturday, February 27 at home against the New York University Violets (13-11, 5-8).

With a win on Saturday, the Judges may earn a berth in the NCAA tournament.

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