Big second half lifts women past CMU, 65-62

Mia DePalo '11 (Photo by SportsPix)
Mia DePalo '11 (Photo by SportsPix)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. -- With their team trailing by six points at the break, Brandeis University junior Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) and senior Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) combined for 30 second-half points to rally the Judges past Carnegie Mellon, 65-62, in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest tonight. The Judges, who won their 18th in a row in the series with CMU, improve to 9-4 (1-1 UAA), while the Tartans fall to 2-11 (0-2 UAA).

Kendrew, who played only four minutes in the first half after two quick fouls, scored all of her game-high 20 points in the second, when she did not leave the floor. She hit just 4-of-14 from the floor with a 3-pointer, but was clutch from the line, where she connected on 11-of-15. DePalo had just three points in the first half, but bounced back in the second to score 10, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. She also contributed a career-high-tying five steals. Senior Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere) contributed her second double-double of the season and the sixth of her career with 15 points and 11 rebounds, tied for the game-high. Kendrew also matched her career-best with a game-high four assists. The Judges won despite getting outrebounded for only the third time this season by holding the Tartans to 33 percent shooting.

CMU sophomore Emily Peel (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris Central) and junior Nicole Vaccarella (Colts Neck, N.J./Colts Neck) led the Tartans with 14 points apiece. Peel matched Strodthoff's double-double with 11 rebounds. Vaccarella pulled down nine boards as Jacquie Shaw (Portland, Ore./Grant) finished with 11 points and junior Jennifer Larsen (Exeter, N.H./Exeter) with 10. Freshman Gina Tudi (Pittsburgh, Pa./Oakland Catholic) dished out three assists off the bench while grabbing six boards.

Brandeis trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, down 30-18 with 6:03 to go following a Larsen 3-pointer. The Judges closed on an 8-2 run to enter the locker room down by six, 32-26. Larsen hit 4-of-5 with a trifecta and a free throw for 10 points, while Strodthoff scored 10 of her own on 5-of-8 shooting to keep Brandeis in the contest.

Kendrew finally broke into the scoring column by draining one from beyond the arc to open the second stanza. After a Strodthoff lay-up cut the deficit to one, CMU answered with a pair of Peel free throws. DePalo connected from downtown at the 16:01 mark to knot the game at 34-34 and again 37 seconds later to give the Judges their first lead since it was 2-0.

The Tartans answered with five straight points to reclaim the advantage at 39-37 on a Phillips lay-up, but Kendrew responded with a traditional three-point play. Vacarella connected from deep on CMU's next possession to give the hosts a 42-41 lead with 11:56 to play, but Brandeis scored the game's next six points, four coming from the line, to go up by five, 47-42, on a Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomeraug) hoop.

CMU was able to claw within one point again at 50-49 on a Shaw bucket with just under seven minutes to go, but DePalo answered with her third 3-pointer of the game. That sparked a 9-0 Brandeis run, and the Judges were able to hold off the Tartans from there, as Kendrew hit 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch.

The two squads are back to UAA action on Sunday at 2 p.m., as Brandeis heads to Cleveland to face Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon hosts NYU.