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After last big win, hoops seniors reflect, reminisce on four years at Brandeis

By Kara Karter

Section: Sports

March 5, 2010

Entering Saturday’s regular season finale against New York University (14-12, 5-9), the Brandeis women’s basketball team needed a win–and lots of help–to qualify for the NCAA Division III tournament. They got the win, but did not make the tournament. Still, with the largest home crowd of the season on hand, the Judges ended the year strong, routing NYU 95-60. Brandeis finished the season on a three-game winning streak, at 16-8 (9-5 in conference play.)

Though the odds were stacked against the Judges, the atmosphere in Red Auerbach Arena this Senior Day was electric. In front of more than 400 friends, family and fans, the team’s senior class of 2010–Carmela Breslin, Jessica Chapin, Kasey Gieschen, Lauren Rashford, and Manager Talisa Torres–was honored at center circle.

These pregame festivities would set the tone for the rest of the afternoon, making the seniors’ last game a can’t-miss event.

“I could not have imagined a better way to leave than with an impressive win,” Torres told The Hoot.

Team captain Chapin started the scoring, hitting a three-pointer just 25 seconds into the game. For the majority of the first half, the Judges couldn’t miss, converting 16 of their first 20 field goal attempts in the period.

Leading the charge was Chapin, who had a remarkable first half, shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, with three triples and a free throw. Overall, the Judges shot 17 of 24–an impressive 70.8 percent–before the break. They entered intermission having doubled-up the Violets, 47-23. The credit goes not only to the Judges’ offensive outburst, but also to their defensive fortitude, holding NYU to 23.3 percent shooting before the half.

The party continued in the second. Like fellow senior Chapin, Gieschen started the session with a three, putting the Judges up 27 at 50-23.

Eight of the next ten points would be scored by the Violets, but Brandeis’ lead was insurmountable. The exclamation point–a Gieschen jumper with 4:25 to play–gave Brandeis its largest lead of the game, 85-50. The seniors left the floor one-by-one, each to a standing ovation.

Chapin finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds to register her fourth double-double of the season and the eighth of her career. She also led the team with 8 assists.

Forward Shannon Hassan ’12 scored a career-high 19 points, and Rashford and Morgan Kendrew ’12 achieved double figures, scoring 13 and 11 points, respectively. Amber Strodthoff ’11 paced the Judges with a game high 11 rebounds.

As the final buzzer marked not only the conclusion of the game, but of their Brandeis basketball careers, the seniors were left to reflect.

“Basketball has one of the longest seasons, and me and my teammates were literally together almost all day, everyday” explained Breslin. “Really, the sense of family and friendship Coach [Carol] Simon is able to cultivate is fantastic, and I wouldn’t trade playing and establishing the friendships I did here for anything.”

Chapin agreed, recounting “I have so many memories to take away from this experience, but I am most grateful for the relationships I have made with my teammates; the experience would have never been so great without them.”

Spending so much time together, the Judges shared countless memorable moments both on and off the court.

“It’s hard to pick just one moment” said Torres. “I have been with this team since the beginning of my freshman year and have grown to love and admire everyone as friends.”

“I will really miss things like playing catch phrase against the boys, Kasey [Gieschen] and [Lauren] Goyette ’09 almost setting Grad on fire with their lasagna, or Steve DeLuca ’09 serenading us with Mariah Carey through the wall,” recalled Breslin.

By building and sharing memories, from making the Elite Eight, to playing in front of hometown fans in Rochester (which “pretty much helped put us in the tournament,” notes Chapin), to Senior Day, the Brandeis basketball team became a family. And like the families that changed when these girls first left for college, it’s time for these family members to go their separate ways.

“The first time I took the court I was full of excitement. Leaving for the last time was bittersweet but I knew it was time for my basketball career to end,” explains Chapin.

Chapin ends her career having totaled 1,280 points–sixth highest in school history–262 assists (sixth), 243 steals (third), and 521 rebounds (eighth).

She holds Brandeis records with 167 career three-pointers and 36 points in a game, the latter achieved in a victory over Carnegie Mellon last month. She is a five-time University Athletic Association player of the week and two-time UAA first-teamer. This week, she was named the UAA’s 2010 Player of the Year.

“This team worked hard and enjoyed to be with each other” summarized Torres. “The team is probably one of the things I will miss most about my time at Brandeis.”

To the Girls of 2010: Congratulations and thank you. The feelings are mutual.

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