Birthday girl Vitale leads women past Husson, 81-54

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

WALTHAM, Mass. — A season-high 16 different Brandeis University women's basketball players scored points today as the Judges defeated visiting Husson University, 81-54, in non-conference action at the Gosman Athletic Center today. Brandeis improves to 5-4 with the win, while Husson falls to 3-5.

      The Judges were led by senior center Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa Valley), who tied for game-highs with 16 points and seven rebounds on her birthday. She also had a career-high five assists. Vitale hit 6-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 from the line to finish three points shy of her career-best. She scored eight points in each half.

      Two others reached double figures in scoring for Brandeis. Senior Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./Peabody Memorial) had 10 points, five assists and four steals, all of which came in the first half. Sophomore center Ceara McNamara (Amherst, N.H./Souhegan) recorded a career-high 10 points off the bench on 5-of-7 shooting. Two other significant points came from sophomore forward O'Hara Chard (Woodstown, N.J./Caravel (Del.) Acad.), who scored late in the second half. It was Chard's first career game after missing the last season-and-a-half due to injury. She was part of a Brandeis reserve crew that scored 42 of the team's season-high 81 points. 

      Brandeis also got a game-high six assists from senior Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug), as the Judges finished with a season-high 28 assists on their 32 baskets. Twelve of the 18 Brandeis players had helpers.

      Husson was paced by junior Samira Cruz (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater), who matched Vitale with 16 points. Cruz hit 5-of-10 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, and 3-of-4 from the line. After scoring 12 points in 12 minutes in the first half, she had just four more in the second. Rookie Chandler Guerrette (Presque Isle, Maine/Presque Isle) add 12 points for the visitors. Classmate Kathryn Brochu (Bangor, Maine/Bangor) tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds, while three different Eagle players had two assists each.

      The game was close for the first five minutes. After a Cruz 3-pointer tied the game at 8-8 at the 14:57 mark, Brandeis ripped off a 13-3 run over the next 4:26. They went ahead 21-11 on a Vitale lay-up. Cruz connected from downtown again for the Eagles, getting them within seven, 24-17, at the 8:51 mark. The Judges answered with the next nine points to go back ahead by 16 and never looked back. They led by as many as 22 points in the first half, taking a 48-26 lead into the break. The lead ballooned to 31 late in the second as the Judges won by 27, which is their average margin of victory in the series with Husson.

      Brandeis returns to action in 2014 on Saturday, January 4 with a 1:00 game against Trinity (Conn.), while Husson is off until next Tuesday, January 7, when they take on the University of Southern Maine at 6 p.m.