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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women’s B-ball off to NCAA’s

Judges top NYU in season finale

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Sports

After a season of ups and downs, dips and bends, unbelievable highs and head smacking lows, the Brandeis Judges Women’s basketball came out on top of their topsy-turvy season with a victory at home and its third straight NCAA at-large berth awaiting them.

“I’m really excited,” Jaime Capra ’08 stated. “I think it’s a great accomplishment to have gone three years in a row now and I think we have a good match-up against Southern Maine. I think we’re all very confident we can win our first game.”

Carol Simon picked up her 300 victory and Jaime Capra ’08 had a double-double as Brandeis held off a furious New York University comeback to close out the regular season 63-60.

“It feels good,” Coach Simon said about her milestone, “but it means I’ve been coaching for a very long time. But like I say, it’s not really about me, it’s about all the players I’ve been coaching over these last 21 years.”

The first half proved to be a slow affair with neither side shooting over 40 percent. The Violets jumped to a 10-6 lead but Brandeis went on an 11-0 run to take over. NYU and Brandeis swapped runs and the first half ended with the Judges ahead 30-23.

The second half started very strong for the Judges, jumping out on a 9-1 run and at one point having their largest lead of the game with a 17 point margin. However, in what almost proved to be a grim repeat of their last go around, NYU started coming back.

With six minutes left in the game, the deficit was cut to single digits and with just under 3:30 left in the game, a three pointer from Olivia Tromm cut the lead to a one possession 61-58 lead. Each side added a basket, but NYU could advance no further and committed a costly turnover with 15 seconds left. A desperation three hit the rim and Brandeis finished in what proved to be decisive playoff position.

“It was a game we had to win because if we didn’t win, our chances of making tournament definitely would have been a bubble team, maybe even below the bubble,” Coach Simon explained. “But with that win, the committee obviously took into account our strength of schedule and we obviously had some good wins over Chicago, Washington and Rochester so those were all very helpful.”

Capra had 13 points and ten rebounds and is now four points from surpassing Racheal Perry ’92 for second place on the Brandeis all-time career scoring chart. Jessica Chapin ’10 led the Brandeis offense with 20 points, 16 of them coming in the first half, as the Violets managed to contain her after the break. Kiersten Holgash ’08 made her last regular season game count, racking up 13 points on five of seven shooting, and was perfect on all three three-point attempts.

NYU was led by Jessica McEntee as has been per usual this season. McEntee had a double-double of her own with 19 points and 12 rebounds – 13 points coming in the second and ties her for the regular season scoring mark with 301 total points. Rookies Olivia Tomm and Bianca Shorts provided support from the bench with 12 and 11 points respectively.

After quite the regular season, the Judges look ahead to postseason play where they take on long time preseason partner, Southern Maine at Kean University in New Jersey. Capra, for one, was optimistic about Brandeis’s chances against the Div. III power house.

“I think coming off of a big win against NYU, we’re all feeling good about ourselves now and confident. The UAA is a very competitive league and I think it has prepared us for anyone we have to play,” Capra said. “When we run, we move the ball inside and outside, things gel well together and that’s when we score a lot of points. We just have to work on our defense and staying down, not getting beat off the dribble. I would say that’s our biggest thing, making sure we’re not beaten off the dribble.”

Coach Simon was equally optimistic though she was very aware of the challenges that lay ahead.

“We need to execute and we need to be very solid on defense. We can’t have any breakdowns, we have to keep them off the boards, we have to understand their personnel, know who their shooters are, we can’t allow them to execute and run their stuff of,” she said.

Simon later added “it’s just the mentality, you can’t have letdowns at this point. You’ve got the 63 best teams in the country playing and you have a let down and you lose, you’re done….This whole tournament isn’t relying on Jaime’s shoulders because if it were, we would struggle.”

“Our posts really have to play big; we have to get an inside-outside game,” she added. “It’s really gotta be everybody. I mean obviously, it’s important when Jaime plays well but we can’t just rely on Jaime to take over.”

A fitting end to a crazy season; if the ball bounces their way and the Judges can keep it together for a full 40 minutes, then quite possibly, Brandeis could be the Cinderella story of the Div. III tournament. Until then, they have to prove they’re not just another pumpkin.