Women fall to No. 5 Babson, 64-35

Nicolina Vitale '14 (photo by Mike Lovett)

BABSON PARK, Mass. -- The Brandeis women's basketball team was unable to overcome a pair of large early deficits as the Judges fell to local rival Babson, 64-35, tonight. Brandeis evens its record at 1-1, while the Beavers, ranked No. 5 in the nation by d3hoops.com and No. 7 by the WBCA, improves to 2-0.

The Judges, who played Babson their closest regular-season game of the 2010-11 season, were unable to overcome a slow start. The Beavers scored the game's first 13 points before a Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) free throw got the visitors on the board. The lead extended to ahead 18-1 at the 10:02 before the Judges finally made a field goal from junior transfer Erika Higginbottom (Millbury, Mass./Worcester Acad.). The Judges closed the half on a 16-8 string, thanks to four more points by Vitale, and were within seven at one point before Babson's Kathleen King hit two free throws with 1:22 left to give the hosts a 26-17 lead at the break. Babson opened the second half on a 19-5 run over the first 9:12 of the second half, doubling up the Judges, 45-22, and the hosts cruised from there. The Beavers' 38 second-half points were more than Brandeis's entire tally for the game. 

Vitale finished with nine points to lead the Judges, establishing a career-high in points, while her four rebounds and 17 minutes were the second-highest totals of her career. Higginbottom grabbed six rebounds off the bench, tying with senior guard Kelly Ethier (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) for team-high honors. Grad student Diana Cincotta (Plymouth, Mass./West Boylston) added six points. Brandeis shot just 27.3% from the field (15-55) and 10% from downtown (1-10).

The Beavers had three tremendous performances from their front court. King and preseason All-American Nicki Wuerdemann each had double-doubles. King had game-highs with 21 points, 12 rebounds mand five assists, whileWurdemann added 19 points and 11 caroms. Sarah Collins stuffed the stat sheet 10 points, nine rebounds, seven blocked shots and six steals. Brandeis held the Beavers to just 38.5% from the floor (21-55), but the hosts connected on 20-of-27 from the line (74.1%), outscoring Brandeis by 16 from the charity stripe.

Brandeis is back in action on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. when they kick of the 2011 Brandeis Judges Classic against Endicott College, while the Beavers travel to Williams College to take on Tufts University Saturday at 8 p.m.