Women push #7 Tufts for second meeting in a row before falling, 81-77

Camila Casanueva '22 (Photo by Sportspix.com)
Camila Casanueva '22 (Photo by Sportspix.com)

MEDFORD, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team got off to a hot start against 7th-ranked Tufts this afternoon, but the host Jumbos came back in the fourth quarter, snapping a 77-all tie on a 3-pointer with 16.1 seconds left in regulation to hang on for a 81-77 victory. With the loss, the Judges drop to 4-1 on the season, while Tufts improves to 4-0 on the campaign.

The Judges jumped out to a 27-12 lead after one quarter. Brandeis shot 50 percent from the field (8-16) and 67 percent from beyond the arc (4-6), while holding Tufts to just 19 percent overall (4-21) without a 3-pointer (0-7). Senior Camila Casanueva (Santa Clara, Calif./Dos Pueblos) and junior Emma Reavis (Miami, Okla./Suffield Acad.) outscored the Jumbos on their own in the period, combining for 13 points.

Brandeis continued their hot shooting in the second quarter, hitting 7-of-14, but the Tufts offense found a spark as well, hitting 41 percent (9-21) overall and 44 percent from downtown (4-9), as the hosts cut the Brandeis lead to nine at 43-34. Callie O'Brien led the Jumbos with 12 points in the quarter.

After Reavis scored the first bucket of the second half, Tufts went on a 7-0 run that got them within four points at 45-41 on an Angela Alibrandi score.  After a timeout, Brandeis senior Kerry Tanke (Manalapan, NJ / Manalapan) scored a lay-up and junior Francesca Marchese (Staten Island, N.Y./Staten Island Academy) followed with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to nine at 60-51 with 6:33 to go in the third. Tufts would make another quick run to get within two points at 50-48 on two Annika Decker free throws just over a minute later, but the Judges again weathered the storm and took a 62-56 lead into the fourth quarter. Tufts outshot Brandeis, 55 percent (6-11) to 38 percent (6-16) in the period to cut into the lead.

Brandeis stayed ahead of Tufts for much of the fourth period as well, going ahead by eight early when Marchese answered an O'Brien 3-pointer to open the quarter, followed by a steal and Casanueva layup that made it 67-59. Tufts battled back and finally tied the game at 71-all when Maggie Russell converted a traditional three-point play with 3:28 left in regulation. Casanueva answered with a jumper, but Tufts took their first lead since 2-0 on a Molly Ryan 3-pointer off an offensive rebound that made it 74-73.

The teams traded the lead on the next three possessions. After back-to-back empty trips, Ryan hit 1-of-2 from the line to make it a two-point game in favor of the Jumbos. The Jumbos got a stop, but Brandeis fouled Alibrani, who missed a pair from the charity stripe. Casanueva grabbed the rebounds, and after a time out, the Judges advanced the ball to the front court, where first-year forward Caitlin Gresko (Howell, N.J. / Howell) scored from the paint to knot the game at 77-77, setting up O'Brien for the game-winning 3-pointer from the left elbow of the arc. Brandeis used their final timeout to advance the ball and set up a play. The Judges had a couple of open looks from 3-point range, but couldn't get them to fall, as Tufts hit a free throw with 0.5 seconds left for the final 81-77 score.

This was the second season in a row that the Judges and Jumbos played a barn-burner, with Tufts winning by the same exact score two years ago in Waltham. As in that game, the Judges were led by Casanueva today. She scored 20 points and grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds, for her fourth career double-double. She also tied for team-high honors with five assists. Marchese finished with a career-high 15 points, hitting 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Reavis also added a career-high 14 points, to go with seven rebounds and five assists, while sophomore Lauren Mirsky (Ocean City, N.J. / Ocean City) netted 10 points and five boards off the bench.

Tufts got a game-high 26 points from O'Brien, who hit 11-of-19 overall, including 4-of-8 from downtown. Ryan added 18 points, including 8-of-10 from the line, while Russell had a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Alibrandi led all players with 15 boards, seven coming on the offensive glass.

The Judges return to action on Tuesday evening at 5 p.m. at Babson