WALTHAM, Mass. – In a game that featured 13 lead changes and three ties, the 22nd-ranked Babson College women's basketball team rallied past host Brandeis University tonight, 53-52, in a non-conference match-up in Red Auerbach Arena. The Beavers improved to 3-0 on the season, while the Judges fell to 2-1.
Babson rookie guard Briana Hunt (Auburndale, Mass./Newton North) scored half of her team-high 12 points in the final 10 minutes, including what proved to be the game-winning bucket with 36 seconds left. The Beavers also got a double-double from senior center Sarah Collins (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth), who had 11 points and 17 rebounds. Collins also had three blocked shots.
Brandeis sophomore guard Hannah Cain (Gloucester, Mass./Gloucester) nearly added her second career double-double, as she matched Hunt with 12 points, while leading the Judges with nine boards. Cain also had a game-high four assists. Junior guard Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) added eight points and four steals – tying a career-high - for the Judges.
The game was tight throughout, with neither team taking a lead larger than six points. The largest margin of the first half was 18-13, Brandeis, after a jumper by junior Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans) with 6:25 remaining. The Judges were still ahead by four at 20-16 with 3:56 left in the first stanza when Hunt hit a 3-pointer to trigger an 8-2 run to close the half. A fast-break jumper by Brandeis rookie Niki Laskaris (Swampscott, Mass./Swampscott) at the 1:54 mark was offset by Babson sophomore Erin Young (Westwood, Mass./Westwood) connecting from deep with 51 seconds left to give the visitors a 24-22 lead at the break. Cain led all players with six first-half points, as nine different Brandeis players contributed their 10 field goals in the first 20 minutes. Collins and senior Allanah Wynn (Quincy, Mass./Milton Acad.) had five each for Babson.
Babson continued its run into the second half, opening with seven of the first 10 points to take a 31-25 lead less than three minutes in. A Wynn traditional three-point play at the 15:34 mark made it a 34-29 Babson lead, but Brandeis answered as sophomore Mikaela Garvin (Providence, R.I./Hope) hit an and-one play of her own. Senior forward Erika Higginbottom (Millbury, Mass./Worcester Acad.) followed with an offensive rebound to tie the game at 34-all.
Babson pushed the lead back to six with a Young 3-pointer and a free throw and lay-up by Alicia Wilde (Franklin, Mass./Franklin) that made it 40-34 in favor of the visitors with 12:41 on the clock. Brandeis quickly erased that deficit, however, as Garvin and Laskaris hit back-to-back 3-pointers, the Judges' only two of the game. The hosts added the next two buckets as well, with senior Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./Hanover, N.H.) and Laskaris scoring to make it a 44-40 lead for Brandeis with 9:32 left.
The next five minutes for the Judges were frustrating, as they came up empty on seven straight possessions, despite holding Babson off the board as well. The Beavers finally broke through from the free-throw line, as Collins and Hunt hit three-of-four to get the deficit back to one. A Collins put-back with 4:31 left put the visitors back on top, 45-44, with 4:31 to go.
The lead changed hands four more times in the final stretch, with Dean's 18-foot jumper from the right side with 46.9 seconds remaining putting the Judges ahead, 50-49. After a Babson timeout with 37.9 seconds on the clock, the Beavers played for a two-for-one possession, with Hunt slashing to the basket to hit with 35.5 to make it a 51-50 lead.
After Brandeis missed its first chance to go ahead and Collins grabbed the rebound, the Judges did have two more chances when Babson could only hit on 1-of-2 on each of their next two trips to the line. Unfortunately, the Judges were called for a turnover with 11 seconds left and could only muster a two-point bucket just before time expired, making for the 53-52 final.
Brandeis returns to action on Sunday, Nov. 25 at Tufts University. Babson is at Salem State at the same time.