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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women’s B-ball ousted from tourney by Kean

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Sports

It was a heck of a season for the Brandeis Judges’ Women’s basketball team, coming back from 15 down to defeat Southern Maine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, 74-71. The Judges, however, could not keep up with hosts Kean as a second half offensive barrage led by Melissa Beyruti demolished Brandeis 95-61.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” Coach Carol Simon summed up after the game. “They’re a very good team. Very deep, very athletic, they’re a very tough team to defend.”

Brandeis had a very difficult night shooting the ball, shooting an anemic 18 of 68, 26.5 percent from the field and were a horrid 2 of 22 in their three point attempts.

“I think we got a lot of open shots, but we necessarily didn’t have our best shooting game,” Kiersten Holgash ’08 said. “I think we needed to execute better on offense, definitely.”

Despite the poor shooting, the Judges managed to keep it interesting in the first half thanks to strong defensive play by Lauren Orlando ’09. By virtue of 18 trips to the free throw line, the Judges dug out of a 26-9 hole to trail by six at the half.

The second half, though, saw the Cougars open the half with 13 unanswered points. At one point, Brandeis went on a 3 on 1 run following a Kean turnover, but that possession ended with the Judges committing a turnover of their own.

Late in the game, it appeared that Kean was running up the score as the starters remained in the game and were still going for quick lay ups with the game well out of reach. Coach Michele Sharp quickly denied such a charge.

“It’s tournament time,” she said simply.

Kean was led by the exceptionally deadly Beyruti, who had 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting from the field and a devastating 8 of 14 from the three point line. Open or defended, college or pro distance, every time she pulled up, it was a rarity that she would miss. Her lay-up with 13:11 left in the game gave her Kean’s all-time scoring mark.

“She’s a tough guard,” Simon stated, “because if you play her tight, she’s got such a quick first step. So she can beat you off the dribble. She plays hard for however many minutes she played. That kid’s legit”

Rookie forward Tiffany Patrick helped the Cougars with 11 points and 17 rebounds. Each of Kean’s starters reached double digits in scoring with, Cardiss Jackman knocking in 17 points and Chari’ Cooper a rebound shy of a double-double.

Jaime Capra ’08 finished her college career leading the Judges with 19 points on 7 of 20 shooting. Lauren Orlando and Cassidy Dadaos ’09 finished with 11 and 10 points respectively. Rookie Amber Strodthoff finished well with a team leading seven rebounds.

The loss came after Brandeis pulled off a remarkable rally in round one. Down by 15 to the Southern Maine Huskies with nine minutes left in the game, Brandeis went on a 28 to 10 run to close out the game.

“We got a few big steals,” an exuberant Jaime Capra explained. “We just started pushing the ball after getting the steal; make the three, get the easy layup. It’s hard to stop the momentum when it goes the other way.”

Capra overcame poor shooting to finish with a game high 25 points and her 13 trips to the free throw line were two less than the entire Southern Maine squad took in the entire game. Amber Strodthoff made her first playoff appearance count with 13 points and point guard Kiersten Holgash had nine points on three clutch three pointers. Lauren Rashford ’10 provided a lot of energy off the bench with four of the team’s 10 steals and had eight points and five boards.

The heartbroken Huskies were led by forwards Stacey Kent and Angela Santa Fe with 22 and 20 points respectively. Kent was 7 of 12 from the field, while Santa Fe finished her college career with 8 rebounds. Becky Dixon was the next most productive, with nine points off the bench.

And so caps another season of Brandeis basketball. It was one of many emotions – excitement, shock, and occasional dismay, something last weekend encapsulated all at once. Where Brandeis will go in the future without the school’s second all-time scorer in Capra, solid starter in Holgash and defensive plug in Courtney Tremblay ’08 is unclear. Next year will be one to watch indeed.