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Women’s basketball goes 2-1 in final stretch of season

By Dani Chasin

Section: Sports, Top Stories

February 28, 2013

The women’s basketball team brought their season to a close during the February break with two wins and one loss: the Judges beat the University of Chicago, vindicating a loss earlier in the season, and fell to Washington University in an emotional Senior Day on their home court the next day. Their final game at New York University resulted in a victory, solidifying an overall record of 10-15 and a conference record of 4-10.

Against the University of Chicago, the Judges had a quick start and put the Maroons under tremendous pressure on offense. Nailing the first seven points of the game, the Judges scored 33 points in the first half and 35 more in the second half to bring their winning score to 68-50. The Maroons, also contesting shots on offense, found themselves one step behind the Judges the entire game and went 40 percent in shooting while the Judges went 43 percent.

The Judges’ offensive highlight of the game was guard Janelle Rodriguez’s ’14 standout performance with a career-high 22 points. Nailing four 3-point jumpers and shooting 66.7 percent from the field, the third year veteran from Massachusetts recorded 10 points in the first half and added 12 more in the second half. She even managed to achieve another team-high with six assists while also contributing five rebounds.

Behind Rodriguez in scoring was forward Erika Higginbottom ’13 who scored 10 points. Both junior center Nicolina Vitale and senior forward Courtney Ness had eight points apiece while Ness also led the team with 10 rebounds. Altogether, the Judges forced 19 turnovers on the Maroons while giving up 14.

Higginbottom said that beating Chicago the second time around was a rewarding experience for her team.

“Beating Chicago felt like we’d finally gotten that win we deserved. We’d been working too hard and coming so close. It was nice for it to finally pay off against Chicago,” Higginbottom said.

In the game against the Washington University Bears, the Judges played for the last time on their home court for the season while dedicating the match to the senior players. Unfortunately, the contest resulted in a tight 62-57 loss for the Judges, but their performance in this match drastically improved from their previous matchup with the Bears where they lost 60-28.

Higginbottom said that Senior Day was both bittersweet and emotional for the team.

“All of the seniors felt like our day came too soon but we all went out and played hard. I couldn’t be more proud of our team and even though we didn’t win on my Senior Day, I am very happy with how we played,” she confessed.

Although the Judges took an early 7-6 lead into the game, the Bears managed to contest their shots and break away in the first half by as much as seven points. Ending the first period with a tight score of 26-25, the Judges lagged a bit behind on offense in the second half, gaining 32 points compared to the Bears’ 36 points.

With just more than two minutes left in the game, the score was tied at 54-54 after a layup by guard Hannah Cain ’15. But the Bears unrelentingly nailed two 3-point jumpers to break away from the Judges and win the game.

Cain had an impressive career-high performance for the Judges, nailing 17 points and going 53.8 percent in field goal shooting. Both guard Kasey Dean ’14 and Higginbottom tied for 10 points apiece while Dean also led the team with five assists. Rodriguez led the team with six rebounds off the board.

The final game of the season against the NYU Violets resulted with an 11-point win for the Judges with a score of 72-61. At halftime, the Judges were down 28-36, and had to regroup in the second half to come back from their eight-point deficit. After battling back in the second half, the Judges added 44 points while only allowing 25 more from the Violets.

With nine minutes left in the game, both teams were tied 47-47. A quick 3-point jumper by Rodriguez sparked an offensive rally by the Judges that lasted until the end of the game. Brandeis, shooting 34.4 percent in the first half, largely improved their performance in the second half with a 42.9 shooting percentage.

Nearly all five starters for the Judges achieved double digits in scoring for the game. Higginbottom led the Judges in scoring with 16 points in which two baskets were hit from downtown. Both Rodriguez and forward Samantha Anderson ’13 scored 12 points apiece. The other two starters, Dean and Cain, both recorded nine points apiece while Cain also led the team with seven rebounds.

Now that their season is over, the Judges can look back at everything they have accomplished. Playing on the road four times and battling through 25 games, 14 of which were against UAA competitors, never seemed to stop the Judges from bringing their hearts on the courts.

“The things that I’ll cherish most from my basketball experiences at Brandeis didn’t happen on the court. My teammates and coaches have made this such an amazing journey for me. I won’t remember the games forever but I have met some people that I’ll be friends with for a lifetime,” Higginbottom said.

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