February 2, 2014

Jackson double-double leads women to fourth-straight UAA win, 58-55, at CMU

PITTSBURGH, Pa.  – Rookie forward Maria Jackson (Rochester, N.Y./Hilton) registered her first career double-double with 16 points and a career-high 13 rebounds to lead the Brandeis University women's basketball team to a fourth-straight University Athletic Association (UAA) win, 58-55, at Carnegie Mellon University. With the win, Brandeis improves to 10-8 overall, 4-3 in the UAA, matching their season and conference win total from a year ago. Carnegie Mellon falls to 11-7, 2-5 UAA.

Down 30-27 at the half, Brandeis went down by six after Carnegie Mellon's Liza Otto hit a traditional three-point play to open the second stanza. Brandeis answered with the next six points to tie the game at 33-33 on a Paris Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton) jumper at the 16:44. Otto answered on the next possession, and the Judges were unable to get over the hump against the Tartans until late. They tied the game on seven separate occasions, but were down five 49-44, with 6:15 to go after Otto scored on a feed from Gabrielle West.

Over the next four minutes, the Judges scored 10 of the game's next 12 points. Jackson started the run with an and-one play of her own to make it a one-possession game. The teams traded empty trips before Jackson rebounded her own miss and fed senior Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) for a lay-up that tied the contest at 49-49 with 4:29 to go. The Judges survived two missed foul shots on Carnegie Mellon's next possession, but after a turnover, the Tartans' Chandler Caulfield connected to give the home team a 51-49 lead.

Vitale answered on the other end for the seventh tie of the half. On the next Tartan possession, Hodges stole the ball and was fouled going in for a lay-up. She hit one-of-two from the line with 3:23 to go, but that freebie gave Brandeis the lead for good. Jackson had a block and rebound on CMU's next possession, and Brandeis senior Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans)  hit a jumper just under a minute later to make it a three-point Brandeis lead.

Vitale picked up her fourth foul on the Tartans' next trip. CMU's Lisa Murphy hit both to make it a one-point game, but Vitale made up for her error with a jumper on a feed from Hodges on the next trip. After Jaquie Shaw for Carnegie Mellon again got the home team within one at 56-55 with 1:51 on the clock, the teams traded stops.

Jackson got another huge rebound when Otto missed the front end of a one-and-one with 49 seconds to go. Jackson missed a hotly-contested lay-up with 19.6 seconds to go and the Tartans got the rebound and called a timeout. Brandeis played tight defense on the other end, and Vitale deflected a CMU pass. Jackson stepped in with 3.3 seconds on the clock, corralling the ball and getting fouled. She hit both free throws on the other end to ice the game, 58-55.

For the game, Jackson led the Judges in scoring and rebounding with her first collegiate double-double. Her 16 points – two shy of her career-high - came on 6-of-10 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line. Her game-high 13 points exceeded her career-high by two and included four offensive rebounds. Jackson was nearly at her double-double by halftime, when she had 11 points and six boards in the first 20 minutes.

Vitale added 11 points, 10 of which came in the second half when she hit 5 of her 10 shots. Vitale also had five rebounds and a team-high three assists. Classmate Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) added 10 points. The Judges were able to overcome a 1-for-13 performance from 3-point range and 34 percent shooting overall (24-70) by owning the offensive glass, 17-7, and forcing 23 turnovers while committing just 12. That gave Brandeis a 17-4 edge in second-chance points and 16-10 in points off turnovers.

Brandeis's fourth win in a row against a UAA opponent is their longest streak since 2009-10. All four of the wins have been decided by five points or less. 

CMU got a game-high 18 points from Shaw, but 14 of those came in the first half, including 10 in a 17-7 run that gave the hosts the 30-27 halftime lead. Murphy added 15 points and nine rebounds, one shy of Lindsay Poss's team-high 10 caroms. Caulfield led the hosts with three assists.

Brandeis and Carnegie Mellon will meet again in one week in Waltham at 2 p.m. The Judges' next game is Friday night at home against Case Western Reserve at 6 p.m.