WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team dropped their first home contest in two weeks tonight as the Judges suffered an 80-68 University Athletic Association defeat at the hands of Case Western Reserve University. The loss drops the Judges to 12-5 on the season, 2-4 in the UAA. The Spartans improve to 9-8, 4-2 UAA.
The game featured five ties and nine lead changes. Neither team was able to establish a foothold in the first quarter, with the contest tied at 15-15 after 10 minutes. The lead went back and forth in the early parts of the second quarter before went on an 8-0 run, taking a 27-20 lead on a Melissa Heath lay-up midway through the stanza. The Spartans maintained their lead until the half, taking a 33-27 lead. Heath and Abbey Lawrence each had six points in the second to finish with 10 and eight points, respectively, in the first half, while Brandeis senior Hannah Nicholson (Sunderland, Vt./Burr and Burton Academy) led the Judges with eight points, six in the first period.
CWRU scored the first five points of the second half, taking their first double-digit lead on a Lawrence 3-pointer 1:37 into the third. She added a traditional three-point play with 6:48 on the clock to give the visitors a 41-31 lead, but Brandeis stormed back. The Judges scored 11 points in a row, sparked by junior transfer Courtney Thrun (Regina, Sask./Deerfield, Mass., Academy), who had four points, two steals and an assist on a 3-pointer. Her theft and lay-up with 4:33 remaining put the Judges on top for the first time since the first period, 42-41. After a pair of stops, the teams traded buckets. After Heath scored two hoops in a row, Brandeis junior Katherine Puda (Whitinsville, Mass./Worcester Academy) hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 47-all with 1:41 to go in the period. Lawrence responded from downtown, a bucket that put the Spartans ahead for good. The visitors outscored Brandeis 28-20 in the final quarter, thanks to a 15-0 advantage from the free-throw line.
Thrun was Brandeis's leading scorer, netting 16 points in 15 minutes off the bench. She had a career-high 16 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and had two rebounds, two steals and an assist. The Judges also had a pair of double-double performances. Nicholson finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds for her UAA-leading eight double-double of the campaign. Junior guard Camila Casanueva (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos) added 13 points and a career-high 10 assists, her first point/assist double-double of her career and her second overall.
CWRU had a pair of career performances from Lawrence and Heath, who combined for 55 of the team's 80 points. Lawrence had 30 on 10-of-18 from the field, 3-of-7 from deep, and 7-of-7 from the line, while Heath hit 10-of-16 from the floor and all five of her free throws for 25 points. The pair also tied for team-high honors with seven rebounds each, while Lawrence also led the Spartans with five assists. Case Western Reserve's biggest advantage came from the line, where they had the second-best performance in Division III basketball this season, going 22-for-22, while limiting the Judges – who entered the game leading Division III in free-throw percentage at 79% on the season – to just 2-of-3.
Brandeis returns to action on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. when they play host to Carnegie Mellon University in the final game of the first half of the conference season.