Women’s basketball storms past Mount Ida in season opener, 74-39

Nicolina Vitale '14 (Photo by Sportspix/Mike Broglio)

The Brandeis University women's basketball team started the season off in style, going on a 41-5 run midway through the contest en route to a 74-39 victory against Mount Ida College. The Judges will play in tomorrow's Brandeis Invitational championship match at 3 p.m. against the winner of Colby and Eastern Nazarene. The Mustangs, now 0-1 on the year, will play in the consolation match at 1 p.m.

Trailing 13-12 after a nervy first eight minutes of the contest, Brandeis dialed up the pressure on Mount Ida and quickly put the game to rest. The Judges went on a 27-3 run over the final 11:41 of the first half, keeping the Mustangs off the board for a nine-minute stretch. Eight different players scored in the first half for Brandeis, who entered the break up 39-16.

The Judges picked up where they'd left off in the second half, racing out on a 14-2 run to take a commanding 53-18 lead. Senior forward Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) led the way, scoring 13 second-half points en route to a career high of 19. Vitale also had a career-best four steals and tied her previous best tallies of eight rebounds and two assists. She shot a scorching 9-for-11 from the field.

Rookie guard Paris Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton, pictured above) was the only other Brandeis player in double digits, scoring 10 points and adding seven rebounds and a game-high five assists in her collegiate debut. Sophomore guard Heather Cain (Gloucester Mass./Gloucester) had a successful Brandeis debut as well, scoring five points and adding eight rebounds. Cain transferred from Trinity College this season.

Senior center Angela Miller (Sicklerville, N.J./Caravel Acad.) had seven points, six rebounds, and a career-high four blocks.

Eleven different players scored for the Judges in total, including eight players with at least five points.

Mount Ida was led by junior forward Jenn Rafuse (Brockton, Mass./Brockton), who had 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, but also had nine turnovers. Senior guard Abbey Fedigan (New Fairfield, Conn./New Fairfield) had nine points and six rebounds, while rookie center Angelique Martinez (Taunton, Mass./Taunton) scored the first three baskets of the game en route to a six point, six rebound effort.

Mount Ida assistant coach Morgan Kendrew graduated from Brandeis in 2012, and is one of the Judges' top-10 scorers of all time.

In the second semifinal tonight, Colby put all five scorers in double figures, including a game-high 21 from senior Jen Nale (Waterville, Maine/Waterville), to defeat Eastern Nazarene College, 77-59. Nale hit 8-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. She scored 18 of her points in the first half, when she hit four of her five trifectas.

The Mules also had a balanced rebounding attack, with three players grabbing seven caroms each. Sophomore Desi Smith (Watertown, Wis./Watertown) had 16 points and seven boards, while sophomores Carylanne Wolfington (Hallowell, Maine/Hall-Dale) and Mia Diplock (Vienna, Maine/Cony) each tallied 11 points and seven rebounds for the Mules. Senior Gabe Donahue (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) rounded out the 10-point scorers with 12 on the night.

Eastern Nazarene rookie Ruby Leon (Fairfield, Calif/Fairfield) had a fine collegiate debut with 18 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Classmate Nicole Leon (Odenton, Md./Arundel) was also terrific off the bench for the Lions, with 13 points and seven boards, tied with the three Colby players for game-high. 

Eastern Nazarene and Mount Ida will meet tomorrow at 1 p.m. in the consolation match, while Brandeis and Colby will vie for the Tip-Off Tournament title tomorrow at 3 p.m.