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Women’s basketball splits first two games

By Alex Bernstein

Section: Sports

November 18, 2011

The Brandeis women’s basketball team started off their season in great fashion Tuesday night, beating Worcester Polytechnic Institute 52-42. Guard Diana Cincotta ’12 led the Judges to a road victory with a team-high 14 points.

After a long preseason, the Judges went into Tuesday’s game feeling good. Guard Julia Scanlon ’14 explained that in preseason the team worked on playing good defense. “Defense was our focus—we worked on not being individually good on the defensive end but rather being good at team defense.”

Scanlon also spoke about how important it is for the team to step up and fill the shoes of last year’s seniors who graduated. “Obviously losing some key members is a huge loss for our team not just on the court but off the court too. But every year you’re going to lose some people and it’s time for everyone else to find a new role.”

Going into the game, the Judges hoped to bring some of the defensive intensity that they worked on in preseason. Brandeis started off slowly, going 1-for-13 from the field in the first six minutes. Fortunately, the Judges played very well at the defensive end early on, forcing four turnovers and holding WPI to just 1-for-8 shooting. Forward Erika Higginbottom ’13 scored five points in the first half off the bench for the Judges and Cincotta hit a late three-pointer to give Brandeis a 26-22 lead going into the half.

Scanlon felt that the Judges did a great job on defense right out of the gate and felt good going into the half. “We came out with great intensity and focus. Defensively, we really stuck to the fundamentals and were good at disrupting the other team’s offense.” The offense, however, was not producing the way the team would have liked. “In the locker room, we talked about picking up the tempo and execution of our offense. We were successful when we ran through our sets and got easy baskets.”

In the second half, senior guard Lauren Hannmann immediately tied the game for WPI, scoring four straight points. The Judges responded with a 5-0 run, including a three-pointer by captain guard Kelly Ethier ’12. Brandeis would not give up the lead for the remainder of the game, keeping the lead to around 10 points for the last six minutes of the contest.

Cincotta was the only Judge to reach double digits, while Higginbottom tallied nine points. Hannmann lead WPI with 16 points but the WPI bench outscored the team’s starters 22-20, including 12 points from sophomore forward Siena Mamayek.

A key to the Judges’ victory was their ability to convert WPI turnovers into points. The judges scored 21 points off of 25 WPI turnovers, while WPI could only convert one basket off of the Judges’ 17 turnovers. The game also saw rather poor shooting from beyond the arc, with Brandeis and WPI going 3-17 and 4-17 from downtown, respectively. According to Scanlon, it was the Judges’ rebounding and improved offense in the second half that allowed them to achieve the victory. “We rebounded better and we did a better job running through our sets and pushing the tempo of the game.”

Scanlon also mentioned what a great job the captains have been doing so far. “Our captains are not only great on the court but great off the court. They do a great job keeping our team focused, motivated, and create an environment that is fun to be a part of.”

The entire team was encouraged by the victory. Scanlon said that every year the team’s goal is to make the NCAA tournament and this year is not different.

Yesterday, the Judges were unable to overcome a pair of large first-half deficits as the Judges fell to local rival and fifth-ranked Babson, 64-35. With the loss the Judges drop to 1-1 on the young season.

The Beavers quickly scored the game’s first 13 points forcing the Judges to play from behind for the entire game. Brandeis finally got on the board when center Nicolina Vitale ’14 made one of her two free throws. The Beavers extended their lead to 18-1 before Higginbottom finally made the Judges’ first field goal at the 10:02 mark of the first half. The Judges closed the half on a 16-8 run, behind four more points from Vitale, and even pulled within seven points at one point; however, senior forward Kathleen King hit two free throws for the Beavers with 1:22 remaining in the first half to give the Beavers a 26-17 halftime lead.

Babson stormed out of the locker room at the half and immediately went on a 19-5 run over the first 9:12 of the half to double up the Judges 45-22. With their massive lead, the Beavers cruised to victory. Babson scored 38 points in the second half, three points more than Brandeis scored in the entire game.

Vitale finished with nine points to lead the Judges, a new career high, while her four rebounds and 17 minutes of play were the second highest of her career. Higginbottom grabbed six rebounds off of the bench to tie Ethier for the team-high. Cincotta added six points as well. Brandeis shot a meager 27.3 percent from the field (15-55) and was just 10 percent from beyond the arc (1-10).

The Beavers had three spectacular performances from their front court. King and preseason All-American Nicki Wuerdemann each had double-doubles. King had game highs with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five assists while Wuerdemann added 19 points and 11 assists. Sarah Collins further stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks and six steals. Brandeis limited the Beavers to just 38.5 percent shooting (21-55) but the hosts shot 74.1 percent (20-27) at the free-throw line to outscore the Judges by 16 points at the charity stripe.

The Judges’ next game is Saturday at 5 p.m. when they host Endicott.

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