Collins Helps No. 13 Babson Open With 62-59 OT Win At Brandeis

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WALTHAM, Mass. – Sophomore Sarah Collins (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) turned in a dominating peformance at both ends of the court to help the 13th-ranked Babson College women's basketball team open its season with a thrilling 62-59 overtime comeback win at Brandeis University on Wednesday night. Junior captain Kathleen King (Framingham, Mass./Framingham) added a double-double for the Beavers, who erased an eight-point deficit with 4:30 left in regulation to nab the win.

Brandeis (1-1) never trailed in the first 39-and-a-half minutes of the contest, including a 27-20 lead at the break thanks to nine first-half points by senior forward Amber Strodthoff (DePere, Wis./DePere). Collins kept Babson (1-0) in the contest with 10 points, accounting for half of her team's offense. Collins scored the first five points of the second half off Brandeis turnovers, with a 3-pointer and a steal and lay-up, but the Judges answered with six straight points to match their biggest lead at eight points, 33-25, with 17:39 remaining in regulation.

The Beavers got within one point at 37-36 on a Collins put-back with 11:13 on the clock, but after three empty possessions for both sides, a pair of free throws by junior Morgan Kendrew (Cotuit, Mass./Barnstable) put momentum back in Brandeis's court. After Strodthoff found Kendrew for a back-door lay-up, senior Mia DePalo (Rumson, N.J./Red Bank Catholic) coverted a traditional three-point play with 5:38 remaining to push the lead back to eight at 52-44 with 5:38 on the clock. A Collins lay-up on a post-to-post pass from junior Nicki Wurdeman (Rowley, Mass./Triton Regional) was answered by two freebies by Brandeis rookie Julia Scanlon (Long Valley, N.J./West Morris), for a 54-46 lead with 4:30 on the clock.

At that point, Babson senior captain Becky Bowman (Melrose, Mass./Arlington, Mass.) launched her team's comeback, beginning with a 3-pointer from the corner. On an aggressive box-out, DePalo was called for a foul, and Bowman converted the four-point play to cut the lead in half on one possession.

Neither team scored over the next two-and-a-half minutes, with tight defense taking over. The Beavers chipped away at the lead, as Collins and Wurdeman each hit one of two free throws at the 1:34 and 49-second marks to get the visitors within two.

The Beavers took their first lead with just 29 seconds left on the clock when Collins stole the ball and found Bowman on the fast break. Bowman converted the lay-up and was fouled in the process, converting the traditional three-point play to give the visitors a 55-54 edge. After two timeouts, Brandeis was unable to convert, as Kendrew's drive to the hole was denied. Bowman tied up the ensuing rebound with the possession arrow favoring Babson. The Judges sent Wurdeman to the line, and she hit both free throws with 9.8 seconds left, pushing the lead to three points, 57-54.

Following a Brandeis timeout, Kendrew pushed the ball up the floor. Strodthoff set a terrific screen at the top of the key, freeing her teammate to hit a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation and force the extra session.

In overtime, with both teams beginning to tire, the game went more than three minutes with neither team scoring. King finally broke the ice from the line, drawing a foul after rebounding her own miss with 1:57 left. After she hit both free throws, Brandeis junior Kelly Ethier (Springfield, Mass./Minnechaug Regional) hit an open jumper on a nice feed from classmate Brighid Courtney (Southampton, Mass./Northampton). The Beavers pushed the ball on the ensuing possession and King scored what proved to be the game-winning hoop with 1:15 left on feed from sophomore Allanah Wynn (Quincy, Mass./Milton Acad.).

After Babson got a stop on its next possession, Strodthoff grabbed a rebound with 28 seconds left on a Collins miss. The Judges moved the ball the other way and worked it into Kendrew's hands. She drove the lane and appeared to hit another game-tying shot with 13 seconds on the clock, but two Babson defenders converged on the spot and drew a charge call, negating Kendrew's bucket.

Wynn hit one of two after getting fouled with three seconds left before Brandeis called timeout. The Judges executed a nifty play to get Ethier free for a long three-pointer, but her bid from 23 feet away missed as Babson clinched the overtime victory.

For Babson, Collins led all player with 26 points, matching Kendrew with 16 in the second half. Collins also had six boards, five steals, and three blocked shots in a monster performance. King finished with 12 points, including four of the Beavers' five in OT, and a game-high 10 rebounds, Bowman had 11 points off the bench, and Wynn and sophomore reserve Jessica Aruda (Hanover, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) tied for game-high honors with four assists each.

Kendrew led Brandeis with 21 points, a career-best. She scored 16 in the second half, after scoring 13 in the second half in the Judges' season opener on Tuesday. Kendrew also led the Judges with six rebounds, four coming off the offensive glass. Strodthoff finished with 13 points, nine coming in the first 20 minutes. Four Brandeis players tied for team-high honors with two assists each.

Brandeis is next in action on Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. against Connecticut College in the Judges Classic tournament, while Babson takes on Regis College in its own Babson Invitational Tournament presented by Reebok on Saturday at 1 p.m.

NOTE: Portions of this story taken from a Brandeis University press release.