No. 5 Rochester women pull away from Judges, 77-56

Morgan Kendrew '12 (Photo by Sportspix)
Morgan Kendrew '12 (Photo by Sportspix)

WALTHAM, Mass. – In a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, the fifth-ranked University of Rochester women's basketball team rode the hot hand of senior forward Jodie Luther (Gibsonia, N.Y./Hampton) tonight to defeat host Brandeis, 77-56, in University Athletic Association (UAA) action. Nursing a two-point lead midway through the second half, Luther scored 14 of her career-high 32 points in the game's final 10 minutes to lead the Yellowjackets to victory. Rochester improves to 13-0 overall, 2-0 in the UAA, while Brandeis falls to 7-6, 0-2 UAA.

      A tight first half saw five ties and 11 lead changes. Rochester's largest lead was 20-16 just under 12 minutes into the contest on a jumper by sophomore guard Laney Ming (Los Angeles, Calif./Granada Hills). Brandeis answered with a 12-3 run over the next 3:48 as five different players contributed buckets. A trifecta from graduate student Diana Cincotta (W. Boylston, Mass./W. Boylston) at the 4:15 mark provided the Judges' biggest lead at 28-23.

Brandeis looked to take a lead into the locker room, but Rochester scored twice in the final nine seconds. A long Luther jumper and a steal of the ensuing inbounds pass that led to a buzzer-beating lay-up by junior Jackie Walker (Ann Arbor, Mich./Greenhills) gave the visitors the 33-30 edge at the break. Luther and Brandeis senior Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) each had 13 points in the first half to lead all scorers.

      Brandeis scored the first two buckets of the second half, with a steal and lay-up by rookie Hannah Cain (Gloucester, Mass./Gloucester) cutting the lead to one and an offensive put-back by junior center Samantha Anderson (Johnsonville, N.Y./Hoosic Valley) putting the hosts on top, 34-33. Luther assisted back-to-back buckets by sophomore Danielle McNabb (Pittsburgh, Pa./Bethel Park) to get the lead back to three, but Cincotta dialed long distance for the final tie of the game at 37-37.

      Luther and Walker contributed 10 of the game's next 15 points as part of a 12-3 run over the next 3:44 that established a 49-40 lead for UR. Brandeis wouldn't go away, however, notching seven unanswered points of their own. After senior guard Kelly Ethier (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) dialed long distance from the elbow at the 10:30 mark, it was a two-point game at 49-47. Rochester halted the run with a pair of foul shots by rookie Ally Zywicki (Liverpool, N.Y./Liverpool) followed by a pair of Luther inside buckets to push the lead back to eight. After Luther connected on her second 3-pointer of the night at the 6:36 mark to make it 65-53, the Judges were able to get the deficit back to single digits only once the rest of the way.

      Luther finished with a career-best 32 points, missing just two shots all night. She finished 10-of-12 overall, 2-of-2 from downtown and 10-of-10 from the line. She finished just two rebounds shy of a double-double with a team-high eight and also tied for team-high honors with Ming and Zywicki with three assists. Walker added 13 points off the bench. After shooting just 35 percent in the first half (12-34), UR was able to improve to 50 percent in the second (15-30) to help pull away. The Yellowjackets also won the turnover battle, 15-7, converting it into 22-12 edge in points off miscues.

      Brandeis was paced by Kendrew's 18 points. She hit 6-of-12 from the field, 2-of-6 from deep and 4-of-4 from the line while grabbing six rebounds. Cain finished one bucket shy of a double-double with eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Cain also matched Ethier with three assists. Against a squad leading all of Division III in rebound margin at plus-14.5, Brandeis owned the boards, 45-41. That included 21-13 on the offensive glass, leading to a 17-8 advantage in second-chance points. It was the first time this season that Rochester was outrebounded.

      Brandeis will look to bounce back Sunday at 2 p.m. against Emory University, while Rochester will look to keep pace with second-ranked Chicago atop the UAA standings when they take on NYU Sunday at 3 p.m. The Eagles defeated the Violets, 71-49, tonight.