Women pick up UAA road win at Case, 63-58

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Brandeis University women's  basketball team scored nine unanswered points late in the game as the Judges rallied to defeat host Case Western Reserve University, 63-58, in a University Athletic Association (UAA) contest. With their third-straight win and first on the road in the conference, the Judges move over .500 for the first time in a month at 9-8 overall, 3-3 in the UAA. The Spartans fall to 7-10, 1-5 UAA.

In a game that featured eight ties and 11 lead changes, the Judges had the key run. Trailing by a 51-50 margin with 3:42 on the clock, Brandeis held Case Western Reserve scoreless for the next 2:59. Senior Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Veterans) fed classmate Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley) for a lay-up at the 3:27 mark to kick off the run and give the Judges the lead for good. Rodriguez had a steal on the next possession, helping rookie Paris Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton) connect on two from the free throw line to give Brandeis a 54-51 lead. Hodges then got in the act on the defensive end, grabbing two more rebounds. Vitale scored on one trip, and Hodges hit one from the line at the 1:55 mark to put the visitors ahead, 57-51. After another Brandeis stop, the Judges ran the clock down before sophomore Samantha Mancinelli (Durham, Conn./Coginchaug Regional) hit a lay-up with 58 seconds left to make it an eight-point game, 59-51 and the Judges hung on from the free-throw line in the final minute for the five-point win.

Prior to the Judges' strong finish, the biggest lead of the game was at the start, when Case started out by scoring nine of the first 11 points. The Judges answered with a 9-0 run of their own with six points coming from senior Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug) and a 3-pointer from sophomore Niki Laskaris (Swampscott, Mass./Swampscott), and neither team led by more than four points the rest of the half. Case scored the last four points of the first stanza to take a 24-21 lead into the locker room. The Judges held Case to just 4-of-23 shooting from the field in the first (17.4%), but the hosts owned a 15-3 edge in scoring from the free-throw line.

The Spartans' Brooke Orcutt scored the first bucket of the second half to give the home team a five-point edge.  An Erin Reynolds free throw with 16:04 on the clock pushed the lead to six points, but Brandeis scored the next three buckets of the game to knot the game at 29-29 on a Laskaris bucket. The rest of the second half was within two possessions until the final run by the Judges. Brandeis came back by shooting 53.8% (14-26) and dominating the boards, 23-12.

For the game, Brandeis  put three players in double figures. Laskaris led the way off the bench, scoring 15 points in just 14 minutes of action, including nine points in seven minutes in the second half. It was her first significant playing time after missing 10 of the Judges' previous 13 games. She hit 6-of-9 overall, 3-of-5 from downtown. Hodges helped carry Brandeis in the second half, scoring all of her career-high 14 points and grabbing six rebounds in the final 20 minutes. She finished with nine boards, tied for game-high honors. Dean finished with 13 points and matched Hodges with a season-high-tying nine rebounds, including four on the offensive glass.  Eight different players had assists for the Judges, but none had more than two.

Case's Erin Reynolds had 17 points for the home team, while Jessica McCoy had 11. Both shot 5-of-12 from the field with a 3-pointer. Reynolds also hit 6-of-8 from the line. McCoy also had three blocked shots., Orcutt led the Spartans with seven rebounds.

Brandeis will look for its season-high fourth straight win on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Carnegie Mellon. Case will host NYU Sunday at 2 p.m.