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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women defeat rival NYU

Published: March 3, 2006
Section: Sports

What a season it has been for Brandeis. On the brink of collapse, back against the wall, possibly watching their strong start go up in flames, the Brandeis Judges responded, after falling to Washington University on Friday 66-54, with two hard fought victories over Chicago (65-62) and NYU (67-62).

Instead of finishing with only an ECAC appearance, however, the Brandeis Judges are officially participating in the NCAA Division III Tournament. And to think that the Judges came very close to settling for a third ECAC appearance not that there is anything wrong with that.

The break began against Wash U., ranked third nationally, and try as it might, Brandeis could not overcome three Washington University players reaching double-figures and its own abysmal shooting, and fell 66-54. Wash U. clinched the UAA title and an automatic NCAA birth with the victory, Brandeis needed to win its remaining games.

Against Chicago, Brandeis' hopes were nearly buried. Thanks to a disturbing trend of sloppy second half play, the Judges nearly squandered a 15 point halftime lead, but escaped 65-62. Caitlin Malcolm 07 dominated with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds. Jaime Capra 08 offered support with 11 points, while forward Christine Clancy 06 helped Malcolm in the paint with 10 points. Although Chicago lit up Brandeis for 43 points in the second half on 51.9% shooting, the Judges managed to shut down Chicago with blocks from Malcolm and Clancy in the final seconds.

The NYU game was the crucial one. A victory would, at the very least, give the Judges a better chance of making the NCAA Tournament. Aside from that, revenge was crucial to the Judges. They lost their final game to NYU last year, which ended their NCAA hopes, and the Violets gave Brandeis its first loss of the season in a heartbreaker back in January.

This time, on their home turf, revenge was served up to the 325 fans in attendance as the Judges ended on a high note, winning 67-62. Brandeis got strong play from its starters, with Caitlin Malcolm leading the way with 17 points and 9 rebounds.
Jamie Capra, who has been battling injuries for most of the season, had a strong performance with 14 points and 7 rebounds, while Alison Chase was a perfect 8-8 from the free-throw line and sailed to 13 points.

In a close game, Brandeis helped its cause by grabbing 46 rebounds to NYUs 38, and exceptional free-throw shooting, a team strength all year, shined through as the Judges went 22-29 from the charity stripe. These were crucial because Brandeis committed 27 turnovers. Fortunately, NYU could not take advantage like they did back in New York.

Following the victory, Brandeis received welcome news. Thanks to expansion of the at-large seeds, Brandeis made the NCAA tournament, though it wont be easy as the team will have to be on the road, and it will not have the help of Lauren Goyette '09, who is out with a stress fracture to her left leg.

Brandeis opens the playoffs against Salem State at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine today. At first glance, Salem State is not one to get worked up about. Although the team has a strong record, almost all of its victories came against weaker opponents.

However, one should not underestimate Salem. Number one ranked Southern Maine had only one loss all year, and that was to Salem State. Plus, playoff experience cannot be overlooked, and Salem State is a team full of play-off veterans. There is no way of guessing how Brandeis will handle the elevated stage. Even in Division III sports, since this is the official NCAA tournament, everything from crowds to coverage is intensified.