Women lead wire-to-wire in win over Babson, 69-56

Hannah Nicholson '20 (photo by Sportspix.com / Mike Tureski)
Hannah Nicholson '20 (photo by Sportspix.com / Mike Tureski)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team never trailed tonight as the Judges defeated visiting Babson College, 69-56, in Red Auerbach Arena. Brandeis improves to 5-2 on the season, while Babson falls to 4-2.

The Judges opened the game on a 10-2 run and never looked back. They opened their first 10-point lead with 1:23 to go in the first period on a Hannah Nicholson (Sunderland, Vt./Burr and Burton Acad.) 3-pointer, the first of her career. Three late Beaver free throws made it 23-16 after one.

Babson closed to within five points on a couple of occasions in the second, but the Judges were able to keep them at bay, with a Katie Goncalo (Fall River, Mass./Tabor Acad.) 3-pointer just before halftime reestablishing the 10-point lead, 38-28. The Judges held Babson to 8-for-26 from the field (30.7%) in the first half while connecting on 12-for-29 (41.3%).

The Judges took their largest lead of the game with 3:36 to go in the third on a steal and lay-up by rookie Camila Casanueva (Santa Barbara, Calif. / Dos Pueblos) that made it 48-35. Brandeis looked to take the double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, but Babson's Tea Spellacy hit a buzzer-beating trifecta to make it 52-44 after three.

The Beavers used that momentum to open the fourth on a 12-6 run over the first 4:12 of the stanza. An Emily Bonifacic lay-up got the visitors within one basket at 58-56, forcing Brandeis coach Carol Simon into a timeout. Babson got a pair of stops and had two chances to take their first lead from beyond the arc, but both missed, and Judge senior Eva Hart (Manasquan, N.J./Manasquan) converted a driving layup with 4:40 to go to push the lead back to two possessions. The bucket sparked a stellar defensive finish for the Judges, who scored the game's final 11 points, holding Babson to 0-7 with three turnovers down the stretch.

For Brandeis, Nicholson finished as the game's top performer, leading all players with 18 points and nine rebounds. She was efficient in her scoring, hitting 4-for-4 from the field with a 3-pointer, and 9-of-10 from the line. Goncalo added 12 points, while junior Joelle MarkAnthony (Wallingford, Conn. / Mark T. Sheehan) had eight points off the bench, one of six Brandeis reserves to score in the game. Senior Noel Hodges (Southampton, N.Y./Southampton) had a fine all-around game with five points, seven rebounds and team-high three assists.

Babson was paced by Payton Ouimette, who scored 15 points and had eight rebounds, Spellacy finished with 11 points and three steals. Bonifacic had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists to stuff the stat sheet for the Beavers.

This was the 50th all-time meeting between the two teams, the most-played non-conference rivalry for Brandeis women's basketball. The win was the first for the Judges over Babson since the 2009-10 season. Brandeis cut Babson's lead in the all-time series to 26-24.

Brandeis will wrap up the fall semester on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they play host to Gordon College. Babson hits the road for a NEWMAC contest on Wednesday evening at Wellesley at 7 p.m.