Women rally but fall short in 74-73 loss to Bridgewater State

Mollie Obar takes a 3-pointer en route to her game-high 16 points (photo by Cayla Fernandes)
Mollie Obar takes a 3-pointer en route to her game-high 16 points (photo by Cayla Fernandes)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's basketball team erased a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but the Judges couldn't convert on a chance to win the game on the final possession as the Judges dropped a heartbreaker, 74-73, to visiting Bridgewater State University tonight in Red Auerbach Arena. With the loss, the Judges fall to 4-4 on the campaign, while the Bears improve to 6-3.

Brandeis trailed for much of the game, as BSU jumped out to an 11-0 lead over the first 3:37, with seven of the points coming from the Bears' Sydney Bradbury, while the Judges missed their first seven shots. The rims eventually opened up for Brandeis, as they got with two by the break when junior Tathiana Pierre (Jericho, N.Y. / Sacred Heart Academy) hit a corner three with under a minute to go to make it 15-13.

Rookie Mollie Obar (North Yarmouth, Maine/Greely) hit a trifecta to start the second period to give the Judges their first lead, but BSU scored the next four points to keep the advantage the rest of the half. The Bears' Destiny Fitzgerald scored the last two buckets of the second quarter to give the visitors a 32-25 lead at the half. Bradbury's seven points, all in the first period, led all scorers at the break, while Brandeis senior Camila Casanueva (Santa Barbara, Calif./Dos Pueblos) had six for the Judges.

Bradbury opened the second half with a trifecta to put Bridgewater State up by double figures, but Casanueva answered to keep it close. BSU eventually took their largest lead of the game in the third quarter, going up by 11 on a pair of Sophia Gaucher free throws that made it 43-32 with 4:54 on the clock. Sophomore Selenya Gonzalez (Springfield, Mass. / Springfield Central) took over for the Judges at that point, sparking a 12-4 run over the next three minutes, scoring seven points and assisting a Macy Arsenault (Berlin, N.H./Berlin) trifecta in the streak. Gonzalez' driving lay-up with 3:08 to go made it 47-44 in favor of BSU. With the lead still three points and 2:45 on the clock, the Bears finished strong with a 7-2 run that gave them a 56-48 lead headed into the fourth.

Brandeis was still down by 10 points with 5:52 to go and by nine with 4:51 on the clock when they started their comeback. Rookie Caitlin Gresko (Howell, N.J. / Howell) started things off with a lay-up, then Obar caught fire, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, the latter of which cut the Brandeis deficit to 68-67 with 3:14 remaining. After a Brandeis stop, Gresko got to the line with 2:37 remaining and hit both to give the Judges their first lead since early in the second quarter. BSU's Destiny Fitzgerald answered with a bucket in the paint to put the lead back in the visitors' hands, but Pierre dialed long distance from the left corner to make it a 72-70 lead for the Judges with 2:15 to go.

Fitzgerald answered with a tying lay-up on the other end at the 1:27 mark, then blocked a shot on defense that Bridgewater State came away with. On offense, the Bears' Olivia Dziadek went back door and scored what proved to be the winning bucket on an assist from Fitzgerald with 1:20 to go. Brandeis got one of the two points back on a trip to the free-throw line. Both teams got stops on their next possessions, allowing Brandeis to set up a final possession with the shot clock off and 25 seconds remaining. The Judges had three good looks at the bucket off inbounds plays, but none them fell through the hoop, allowing the visitors to escape with the win.

For Brandeis, Obar was the team's leading scorer for the first time, as she netted 11 of her career-high 16 points in the fourth quarter. She connected on 6-of-8 from the field in the game, including 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Five other Judges scored either eight or nine points, with Gonzalez's nine – all in the third quarter –  and Pierre's eight both representing career-highs. Casanueva had a fine all-around game with nine points and game-highs of nine rebounds and six assists.

BSU was paced by Bradbury's 15 points on 6-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep.  She also led the Bears with nine rebounds. Olivia Dziadyk sparked the visitors in the fourth quarter, posting seven points, three rebounds and three assists to finish with 12, seven and five, respectively. The Bears won the rebounding battle, 55-48, while the Judges owned a 17-15 edge in turnovers, turning it into a 14-7 advantage in points off turnovers.

Brandeis will wrap up a three-game homestand next Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. against Eastern Nazarene. Bridgewater State plays host to Wheaton College Saturday at noon.