Women's hoops can't hang with No. 8 Chicago in second half

Courtney Ness '13 (Photo by SportsPix)
Courtney Ness '13 (Photo by SportsPix)

CHICAGO, Ill. -- The Brandeis women's basketball team played a tough first half against No. 8-ranked Chicago, but the Maroons shot 56 percent from the floor in the second to pull away with a 70-54 victory in University Athletic Association action tonight. The Judges fall to 11-12, 3-9 in the UAA, while the Maroons clinch at least a share of the UAA title at 20-3, 12-0, with their 15th victory in a row.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair that featured nine lead changes and three ties. The Maroons opened up late six-point lead before a hoop from sophomore forward Samantha Anderson (Johnsonville, N.Y./Hoosic Valley) got the Judges within four at 27-23. After Brandeis junior guard Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) scored the opening bucket of the second half to cut the lead to two points, UC scored the next 10 in a row. The run included a pair of 3-pointers as the Maroons took a 37-25 lead with 15:54 to go thanks to a Dana Kaplan trifecta.

The Judges rallied again, answering with an 11-3 string over the next 3:14. When rookie guard Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomeraug) converted a traditional three-point play at the 12:40 mark, it pulled the Judges within four at 40-36. The Maroons used the deep ball to their advantage, however, to score the game's next 13 points, hitting from beyond the arc three times in that run. Bryanne Halfhill had two from deep and Kaplan another as the hosts pushed the lead to 53-36 midway through the stanza. The lead would balloon to as large as 21 before the 16-point final margin.

Brandeis was paced by 11 points each from senior guard Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) and sophomore reserve forward Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./Hanover, N.H.). Ness scored seven of her points in the first half and set her career-high, while DePalo had six in the second half. The Judges outrebounded Chicago, 41-36, with Anderson leading the team with six caroms. Three different players had two assists each. The Judges shot 33 percent in the first half (10-30) while holding Chicago to 36 percent (9-25), but Brandeis dropped to 29 percent in the second (9-31), while the Maroons improved to 56 percent (14-25), including 7-of-11 from 3-point range.

Chicago put four starters in double figures. Taylor Simpson led all players with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds. She had 12 points and five rebounds in the first half. Meghan Herrick finished with 14 points, while Halfhill and Herrick had 11 and 10 each. Joanne Torres led all players with four assists.

Brandeis is next in action Sunday afternoon when they travel to ninth-ranked Washington University for a 2 p.m. (Central) tip. Chicago hosts NYU at the same time as they attempt to clinch the UAA title outright.