WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team used a smothering defense in the middle quarters, holding the visiting Wheaton College Lyons to just 18 percent shooting from the field, as the Judges earned a 52-48 win in the opening round of the 2021 Brandeis Invitational presented by the Park Lodge Hotel Group. With the win, the Judges improve to 2-0 on the season, while Wheaton falls to 1-2.
Wheaton held a slim 20-18 lead after one period, thanks to five points and seven rebounds from Rian Sachs. The second period was a defensive struggle, with Brandeis outscoring Wheaton, 11-7, by holding the visitors to just 3-of-18 from the field. The Judges hit just 4-of-13 of their own, taking a two-point halftime lead at 29-27 on a lay-up by junior Emma Reavis (Miami, Okla. / Deerfield Academy). Wheaton's Greta Minos scored all seven of her team's second-quarter points to lead all players with nine at the break, while Brandeis sophomore Selenya Gonzalez (Springfield, Mass. / Springfield Central) led the Judges with seven points off the bench, six coming in the first period.
The Judges were able to create some breathing room in the third quarter. After WC's Sadie Shore tied the game with the first bucket of the second half, Brandeis scored the game's next nine points, including a 3-pointer from senior Francesca Marchese (Staten Island, N.Y./Staten Island) that gave them a 32-29 lead they would never relinquish, and capped by a fast-break bucket by Gonzalez. Brandeis held Wheaton to 20 percent from the floor (3-15), while hitting 29 percent of their own (5-13), in the third.
The Judges took their largest lead of the game on a Caitlin Gresko (Howell, N.J. / Howell) bucket to open the fourth that made it 44-33. Wheaton clawed back into the game with a 10-2 run, getting within three points on Rian Sachs' fast-break layup with just over seven minutes to go. The teams went four-plus minutes without scoring before Marchese hit her third 3-pointer of the game to increase Brandeis's lead back to six points. WC's Alexis Romer answered from downtown, and Minos hit a layup to get the Lyons within one point at 49-48 with 1:53 to go. Brandeis hit just enough free throws down the stretch to hang on for the four-point win, forcing the visitors to miss their final four shots from the field.
For the game, Marchese led the Judges with 11 points, hitting 4-of-8 overall and 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. It was her fourth career game scoring in double figures and was one point shy of a career-best. Senior Camila Casanueva (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos) had 10 points, seven in the second half. She added six rebounds and tied for team-high honors with Reavis with three assists. Gresko and Gonzalez each finished with nine points, while rookie Mollie Obar (North Yarmouth, Maine / Greely) led Brandeis with 10 rebounds.
Wheaton was paced by Romer's game-high 12 points, nine coming in the second half, and 11 from Minos, who had nine in the first. Rian Sachs led all players with 12 rebounds, while Abby Fernandez had a fine all-around game with eight points, eight rebounds, and a game-high seven assists, plus seven steals.
The Judges will meet Husson University tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the championship game of the Brandeis Invitational. The Eagles defeated Connecticut College, 64-47, behind 25 points and 16 rebounds from junior center Bailey Donovan. Conn. College and Wheaton will meet at 12 noon in the consolation game.