Women’s basketball on a roll headed into second half of season

January 10, 2020

Senior forward Hannah Nicholson ’20 is having a career season. In 11 games thus far, Nicholson is averaging 13.5 points per game and 9.3 rebounds per game, both career highs. Furthermore, Nicholson leads the University Athletic Association (UAA) in rebounds per game and field goal percentage. “I went into this season with the mentality that I didn’t want any regrets,” Nicholson said in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. 

Since Dec. 5, the Judges concluded their non-league schedule by going 5-0. The Judges have won seven straight games since their lone loss of the season to Tufts, the top ranked team in the country, on Nov. 23. 

After scoring just six points in the opener and zero points in the following game, Nicholson has scored at least ten points in nine straight games. She has five double-doubles in that span. Nicholson’s scoring and relentless rebounding has led the Judges to a 10-1 record as they head into conference play next week. This is the Judges’ best start since the 2008-2009 season, in which they reached the Elite Eight or National Quarterfinal. 

Thursday, Dec. 5: Judges 74 – Clark 63

After a back and forth first half, the Judges had a nine point lead in the third, which the Cougars cut to five to close the third quarter 61-56. The Judges opened the fourth period on a 6-0 run, putting the game out of reach as the Cougars would never get within nine points. 

Guard Camila Casanueva ’21 paced the Judges with 20 points, including ten in the third quarter, and added six assists as well. Casanueva also led the Judges with two steals. Nicholson notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds and junior forward Jillian Petrie scored ten points on five  of 11 shooting. The Judges dominated the glass, outrebounding the Cougars 55-32, which included 15 offensive rebounds. 

Saturday, Dec. 7: Judges 83 – Johnson & Wales 55

The Judges outscored the Wildcats in the second quarter 23-12 to enter the half with a 14 point lead. The Judges cruised through the second half, as the Wildcats never lowered the deficit below 12. The Judges thoroughly dominated the game. The Judges won the rebound battle 44-31, while scoring 46 points in the paint to the Wildcats’ 24. The Judges shot 30 of 60 from the field, while tripling the Wildcats in bench scoring 39-13.

Nicholson led the Judges with 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and was the lone starter in double figures. Senior guard Lauren Rubenstein scored 12 points and junior forward Samira Abdelrehim added ten points.

Monday, Dec. 9: Judges 65 – Becker 40

In the first meeting between the schools and the final contest before the break, the Judges outscored the Hawks 17-7 in the first quarter. Eight different players scored for the Judges, who shot 7-of-12 in the period. The Judges poured it on in the second quarter, outscoring the Hawks 23-5, putting the game out of reach. The Hawks shot 20 percent in the first half and could not establish any rhythm offensively. 

Casanueva scored 13 points, all of which came in the first half. Freshman forward Emma Reavis ’23 filled the stat sheet, leading the Judges with six assists and five steals. Nicholson had another double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Petrie and Abdelrehim each had 10 points in the blowout victory. 

Tuesday, Dec. 31: Judges 67 – Gordon 52

The Judges returned from the break and ended 2019 on a high note. After the Fighting Scots cut the Judges lead to 51-49 with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Judges closed the game on a 16-3 run. The Judges forced the Fighting Scots into 20 turnovers, while the Judges turned the ball over only eight times, the Judges lowest total of the season. 

Nicholson scored 20 points, including eight in the final five minutes. Freshman sharpshooter Francesca Marchese was the only other Judge in double figures, as she scored 10 points, her first career game in double figures. The Judges moved the ball well, notching 10 more assists than Gordon. Casanueva led the Judges with seven assists while  Reavis had six. In her first game of the season as a starter, Rubenstein scored eight points and added four assists. 

Saturday, Jan. 4: Judges 68 – Regis 50

The Judges outscored Regis in every quarter and never trailed in the game. The Judges dominated the glass, outrebounding Regis 47-35. The Judges shot 44 percent on three pointers and the Judges bench outscored the Regis bench 25-5.

Nicholson led the Judges with another double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds. Reavis had seven assists, tying a season high. Marchese had season highs in both points scored and three pointers made, with 12 and four respectively. Marchese is shooting 45 percent from long distance and has made at least one three pointer in 10 of 11 games. Junior Courtney Thrun added seven points off the bench. 

Only winning seven games a season ago, the Judges have emerged as a legitimate contender heading into league play. In the NCAA’s most recent rankings, the Judges received 25 voting points. “I think we’ve done a really nice job in becoming close as a unit first off the court, which then crosses over on the court,” Nicholson said. 

The Judges are a tremendous offensive team. According to the NCAA, the Judges rank 21st with 77 points per game as of Jan. 7. “This season specifically we put a lot of emphasis on shot selection. Instead of focusing on the outcome of our shots, we have been celebrating the quality of them,” said Nicholson. Additionally, the Judges rank seventh in the nation shooting 38.8 percent on threes. “Our threes come from our mentality of sharing the ball, creating more movement with our passes and getting the ball in the paint a lot as well,” Nicholson continued. 

Another key to the Judges’ success thus far has been their depth. Coach Carol Simon regularly plays 11 or 12 in a game, whereas most teams usually play only eight or nine. “I think we have been so successful because we don’t rely on one or two people, we rely on everyone to bring their best in practices and in our games,” Nicholson added. 

Conference play in the UAA won’t be easy. The UAA features 16th ranked Chicago and returning champion Washington University. “We all know that the games will become more competitive, but it’s something we’re all excited for and have been preparing for,” Nicholson said. The Judges open up league play at 10-1 New York University on Jan. 11, where they will face UAA leading scorer Janean Cuffee. “We are going to focus on playing Brandeis basketball no matter who we play home or away,” Nicholson added. 

Editor’s note: Camila Casanueva and Francesca Marchese are staff members of The Hoot and did not contribute to this article. Sports Editor Sophie Trachtenberg is also a member of the women’s basketball team.

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