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The long road to the NCAAs

Published: March 2, 2007
Section: Sports


The Brandeis Judges, having long languished in the bottom of the athletic pack in the nineties, barely missed out on their third straight 20 win season, falling to UAA co-division champs New York University 73-79 but picked up something far nicer their second straight NCAA appearance. The good news follows a three game road stretch, picking up wins against Emory (58-51) and Case-Western (74-61) before the NYU match.

The NCAA rewarded the Judges, who finished 19-5 overall, 9-5 in UAA play, with a Pool C at-large birth. Other UAA teams that earned an at large bid were NYU (23-2, 12-2) and Rochester (20-5, 9-5). Along with UAA leader Washington University (20-5, 12-2), the UAA sends four teams to the big dance for the second straight year. Brandeis faces off against NAC division champs Maine-Farmington at Emmanuel College and the winner takes on the winner of the Emmanuel/Salve-Regina match-up.

Brandeis started off their last game of the season on a sluggish note, trailing 0-7 at one point trailed by 16. However the Judges heated up and finished the half down by nine thanks to a 14-5 run. Despite putting up 43 points to the Violets 40 in the second half however, it was not enough since the teams exchanged runs and the Violets held on.

I thought in the second half, we came back and we battled. Coach Carol Simon said, Even at the end of the first half, we were down by 16. At one point, we were down by 16 at one point. In the second half, I thought we did a good job scoring so I thought there is a lot to take out of that.

Team captains Caitlin Malcolm 07and Alison Chase 07 both finished with 12 points Chase picking up 10 in the first half and Malcolm in the second while Jaime Capra 08 chipped in 10 points. Malcolm also led the team with five rebounds while Chase had six steals. Brandeis shot 53.8% in the second half however their first half woes, which included a donut hole to show for their four attempts from the three point line.

Not only that but Brandeis had no answer for the Violet forward Jessica McEntee 09 who finished with 31 points and center Karen Bachman 07 chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds. Although the Violets finished with the better record, Washington took the UAA due to the Bears sweeping Rochester while NYU lost to them once.

Prior to NYU, Brandeis handily beat Case-Western which was preceded by Brandeis holding off the ever scrappy Emory Eagles. Lauren Orlando 09 led the balanced attack against Case with 12 points while Capra and rookie Jessica Chapin 10 each 11 points and Malcolm and Chase each had nine. Holding Emory to 27% shooting and grabbing more rebounds back on February 16, Capra had 12 points and eight boards while point guard Kiersten Holgash 08 had 11 of her own.

With the regular season wrapped up, Brandeis faces the Maine-Farmington Beavers tonight. The Beavers, the NAC division champs are certainly no chumps, finishing 25-3 and going undefeated in division play.

Maine-Farmington is very athletic team, very quick, very good defensive team, very disciplined, they get a lot of pressure at the guard position and they are well coached. Coach Simon said. Particularly key behind the Beavers have been their dominant trio of Kari Simpson, Karen Sirois and rookie Caitlin Laflin though by no means they are the only things behind the team.

Those three work really well together. Sirois, shes really a floor general out there. Simon explained, she can shoot the long three, shes very quick, she can drive to the hoop. Simpsons just a really good post player. She can go inside and out, she can hit the three, shes a legitimate player, shes going to be a tough one, you got to keep her off the boards. Laflins really like their blue collar kid. Shes a banger, you have to keep her off the boards, does a good job at the low post but there are other players, they are great compliment players.

In the end, the key for the Judges will be to step up and respond to the pressure that they will face. While last years squad was more experienced, this team is deeper.
Were still a little bit young this year. Simon stated, Cassidy [Dadaos 09], even though she is a sophomore, she is basically a freshman because she was injured. Kiersten, its her first starting stint this year, where she was coming up as a back up. Our post position is still pretty young this year aside from Caitlin. So I think last years team was more experienced though this team is deeper overall.

This has been a year of many of twists and turns marked with highs and lows.

D3hoops.com picked Brandeis as a team most likely to disappoint. In order to prove them wrong, the Judges need to step up quickly and not let up. The regular season is over and its do or die time. The question left is which Judges team will show up, the well balanced aggressive unit that can push aside any opponent or the inexperienced squad flustered by their inability to get the inside game going.

Brandeis faces Maine-Farmington at six p.m. tonight at Emmanuel.