February 7, 2014

Second-half surge leads women to fifth-straight win, 71-58, over Case

WALTHAM, Mass. — The Brandeis University women's basketball team won their fifth-straight University Athletic Association (UAA) contest tonight with a dominant second-half performance against visiting Case Western Reserve University. The Judges outscored the Spartans, 41-19, in the second 20 minutes to claim a 71-58 conference victory in Red Auerbach Arena.

      Brandeis (11-8, 5-3 UAA) exceeded its overall and conference win total from a year ago with the win. The Judges' five-game winning streak is their longest since 2009-10. It marks the first time since the 2003-04 season that they have won five UAA contests in a row. Case's loss drops the Spartans to 7-12 overall, 1-7 in the UAA.

      Trailing by nine, 39-30, at the break, Brandeis scored the first nine points of the second, tying the game on a traditional three-point play by sophomore Samantha Mancinelli (Durham, Conn./Coginchaug Regional) at the 17:18 mark. Case answered with two free throws by rookie Jessica McCoy (Cranford, N.J./Cranford), and Laura Mummey (Hudson, Ohio/Hudson) converted an and-one situation at the 16:29 mark to give the Spartans a 44-41 edge.

A Mancinelli jumper followed by a Kasey Dean (Soutbury, Conn./Pomperaug) lay-up off a Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans) steal gave Brandeis its first lead of the second half, 45-44. After Spartan junior Erin Reynolds (St. Louis, Mo./Webster Groves) answered with a jumper at the 15:14 mark, the visitors hit just two field goals the rest of the way. Another Rodriguez steal led to a Dean bucket, giving the Judges the lead for good at the 14:28 mark. The Brandeis lead expanded to as many as 18 points in the second half as they shot 52 percent from the floor (15-29) while holding the Spartans to just 17 percent (4-24). The visitors took the same number of shots in each half, but connected on 11 fewer buckets.

The Judges trailed at halftime for the fifth game in a row in their winning streak. The visitors shot an unconscious 63 percent from the floor (15-24) in the opening 20 minutes, including 5-of-6 from downtown. The Spartans led by as many as 16 points in the first, going ahead 34-18 with just over four minutes to go on a Rachel Beaty (Carrolton, Texas/Hebron) 3-pointer. The Judges kept the deficit from getting out of hand, however, thanks to some long-range heroics from rookie guard Frankie Pinto (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente), who hit twice from beyond the arc to get the Judges back within eight. Case's Erin Reynolds answered Pinto's second trifecta, but Dean scored the final bucket of the half to cut it to a single-digit deficit. 

      For the game, the high scorer was Brandeis rookie center Maria Jackson (Rochester, N.Y./Hilton), who scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half, finishing just two points shy of a career-high. Jackson hit 6-of-10 overall, 4-of-6 in the second half, and 4-of-4 from the line, all coming after the break. She also tied for the Judges' team lead with five rebounds, four on the offensive glass, and had a career-high four steals.

Dean added 14 points, matched Jackson with five rebounds, and had a game- and season-high seven assists. Senior Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) added 10 points, four boards and two blocked shots. Both seniors scored eight second-half points. Mancinelli and rookie Paris Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton) each scored nine points.

Case put two players in double figures, McCoy, who scored nine of her 15 points in the first half, and Mummey, who had seven of her 10 in the first 20 minutes. McCoy also had a game-high six rebounds.

Brandeis will look for its sixth-straight UAA win on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. against Carnegie Mellon. Case will play at New York University at the same time. NYU edged CMU, 85-81, tonight.