After ending their three-game skid with a convincing victory against Emory, the Brandeis women’s basketball team sought to extend their momentum further into the University Athletic Association conference with their game against the University of Rochester Yellow Jackets last Sunday, Feb. 1, as well. However, despite the Judges’ impressive effort throughout the game, it was the Yellow Jackets that turned out to be the survivor of this brutal combat with a final score of 62-61.
Guard Niki Laskaris ’16 had a game-high 17 points and a pair of back-to-back clutch three-pointers, while the Yellow Jackets’ Alexandra Leslie carried the University of Rochester with 16 points and the game-winning free throw. After this loss, the Judges dropped to 10-8 and 2-5 within the UAA conference.
Despite the loss, the execution of the Judges’ offense was highly efficient, giving the team chances both inside and outside the paint. Paris Hodges ’17, coming off the bench, stepped up from outside with three fast and clean jump shots, while starting forward Maria Jackson ’17 was the weapon inside with three offensive rebounds among the taller players from Rochester. Facing a distinct height disadvantage, it was fairly impressive that the Judges did a better job at rebounding with 20 rebounds to 19 for Rochester. “Rebounding is huge in winning a game because in close games, it all comes down to opportunities; we want to increase our opportunities by getting offensive rebounds,” said Heather Cain ’16.
The Judges went seven for 10 from the free throw line, while only two free throws were attempted by the Yellow Jackets. As Hannah Cain states, “They’re a half-court team … so we wanted a fast-paced game to get them out of their comfort zone.” It was clear that the Judges successfully put the taller opponent onto a faster track and out of position so that fouls had to be given to stop the Judges’ attacks towards the rim.
Defensively, the Judges’ starters did a superb job, allowing three of the Yellow Jackets’ starters no baskets, which might have been the main reason for the Judges’ early seven to five lead. The team’s top stealer Hannah Cain ’15 snatched the ball from the opponent three times in the first half, and her effective defense also led to the team’s success on a few fast breaks which corresponded perfectly to the fast-paced energy of the game. However, the Judges seemed reluctant to completely close out to the Yellow Jackets’ shooters outside to disturb their shots. But fortunately, Hannah Cain’s beautiful buzzer beating layup helped the Judges to finish the first 20 minutes with a 28 to 27 lead.
However, in the second half, the Yellow Jackets suddenly burst with their three pointers as they hit 6 out of 11 attempts, which easily turned the momentum around. “Defensively, we could have done a better job of getting out to their shooters. Once a couple of 3’s have been made, shooters gain a ton of confidence which only helps players shoot better after that. They made big shots, which gave their team a lot of confidence and energy, which only helps teams play better,” said Heather Cain.
The Judges continued to play aggressively and attacked inside which gained them 12 points from 13 free throw attempts. The Judges maintained their faith and energy despite the Yellow Jackets’ outstanding offense. “I think our offense was pretty good down the stretch. I thought we did a good job of recognizing what the defense was giving us” said Heather Cain. She herself stepped up with 7 clutch points including a huge three pointer. “I guess I didn’t think too much of that shot alone, but more so on the momentum and energy we could gain from it.” The momentum remained for the Judges as everyone was fighting for the offensive rebounds when the shots were missed down the stretch instead of giving up the possessions. And it was Maria Jackson who snatched a precious offensive rebound and assisted Niki Laskaris to finish her back-to-back three pointers and to tie the game. Unfortunately, the Judges missed the last shot.
According to Heather Cain, “The loss was definitely tough … It is a little disappointing that we didn’t come out with the win, but I don’t think it has lessened the team’s spirit considering the game could have gone either way.”
The Judges will face Emory University and the Rochester Yellow Jackets again on Friday at 6pm and Sunday at 2 pm, respectively, as the guest team. “We play the same 2 teams this weekend so we are confident with the upcoming games because we are more aware of their strengths and what we need to do to stop them. We are getting better and better each week, and I am confident for the second half of the UAA schedule,” said Heather Cain.