Women's hoops seniors go out in style with 57-54 win at NYU

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- The Brandeis University women's basketball team closed out their 2010-11 season on a positive note, defeating host New York University, 57-54, in a University Athletic Association contest. The Judges were led by seniors Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere) and Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic), who combined for 32 points and 14 rebounds in the victory. It marked Brandeis's second-straight win in the Big Apple and just their third overall, as they close the season at 12-13, 4-10 in the UAA. NYU finishes at 12-13, 6-8 UAA.

Playing in the final games of their careers, Strodthoff and DePalo were tremendous. Strodthoff led all players with 17 points on 7-of-12 from the floor and 3-of-5 from the line. DePalo contributed 15 points by hitting 5-of-10 overall, including 3-of-7 from downtown, and 2-of-5 from the line. DePalo also had a game-high eight rebounds, while Strodthoff had six caroms.

The Judges also got fine contributions from juniors Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable), who had eight points, and Kelly Ethier (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional), who had six assists. Sophomore Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./Hanover, N.H.) had eight points and seven rebounds off the bench, contributing to a 12-5 Brandeis edge in scoring from their reserves and a 43-33 rebounding advantage.

NYU had three starters score in double figures, led by Kelly Loughney's 14 points. Bianca Storts added 12 and Chelsea Blake had 11, but only one other player had more than eight points for the Violets. Loughney tied DePalo for game-high honors with eight rebounds, while Blake led all players with eight assists. NYU won the battle of the turnovers, 21-19, but Brandeis was more efficient off those miscues, outscoring the hosts, 19-17, in points off turnovers.

Brandeis led for the entire first half, jumping out to a 17-7 lead, as Strodthoff scored eight points in the game's first 4:03. She hit four of her first five shots to give the Judges the early lead, while DePalo added five points, two assists, a rebound and a steal in the early going.

NYU climbed within three points on a couple of occasions in the first, the latest at 25-22 following a Storts trifecta at the 8:27 mark. Brandeis answered with the game's next 11 points, however, claiming their biggest lead of 14 points (36-22) when DePalo dialed long distance at the 4:21 mark. A late Makenzie Hirz hoop for the Violets made the score 37-25, Brandeis, at the break. DePalo and Strodthoff combined for 22 points, with 11 each, while hitting 9-of-12 from the floor. As a team in the first half, Brandeis hit 50% (15-30), while holding NYU to 36% (10-28).

In the second half, however, the Violets came out and outscored Brandeis, 8-0, in the first 2:15, as Blake had two assists and four points in the run that got the hosts within four, at 37-33.  The Judges answered with six of the game's next eight points, pushing the edge back to eight when Ness hit one of two foul shots at the 14:11 mark.

Brandeis went cold from the field at that point, however, going five minutes without a field goal as NYU crept back into the game. The Violets got within one point at 44-43 on a Loughney jumper with just over nine minutes elapsed. On the next possession, Strodthoff grabbed two offensive rebounds and eventual scored a bucket on a nice feed from Kendrew to stem the tide.

Kendrew also scored the game's next hoop at the 8:27 mark to push the edge back to five, but NYU got a couple of stops and was back within one at 48-47 after a Storts steal and a Maggie Ely feed to Loughney at the 6:10 mark. Both teams came up  empty on their next three possessions before Loughney gave NYU its first lead of the game from the charity stripe, hitting a pair at the 3:46 mark to make the score 49-48, Violets.

The Judges wasted no time in reclaiming the lead, however, as DePalo drained a 3-pointer on a feed from sophomore guard Shakara Scott (Philadelphia, Pa./Central)  that gave Brandeis the lead for good, 51-49. The Judges were ahead by as many as six points on a Ness jumper with 1:07 to go, but NYU made it a game on an Ely jumper with 43.6 second left and a traditional three-point play by Blake with 0:23.2 on the clock that cut the deficit to 56-54. After Ness hit one-of-two from the line, NYU had a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer, but Strodthoff swatted one shot away and the Violets' final attempt was too wild.