Rodriguez's 20 leads Brandeis women past Chicago, 68-50

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WALTHAM, Mass.- Sparked by a career night from junior guard Janelle Rodriguez (Peabody, Mass./ Peabody Veterans), the Brandeis women's basketball team cruised to a 68-50 victory in University Athletic Association (UAA) play against the University of Chicago at Red Auerbach Arena. The Judges never trailed tonight as they improved to 9-14 (3-9 UAA) while the Maroons dropped to 7-16 (3-9 UAA).

Rodriguez's career night came with an excellent shooting game. She tied career-highs by shooting 66.7% from the field  (8-12) and hitting four 3-pointers, while setting career-highs with 22 points, eight made field goals (double her previous career-high), and six assists. Rodriguez led Brandeis to a 33-21 halftime lead with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting including two from long range. She made sure the Judges would not relinquish their lead by adding another 12 points after the break, again on 4-for-6 shooting, including another two trifectas.

In the first half, Brandeis got off to an excellent start, scoring the first seven points of the contest. The Judges did not relent, building their lead to 15 points on three separate occasions. A Rodriguez trey gave the Judges a 25-10 lead, a layup by junior forward Nicolina Vitale (Clinton Township, Mich./ Chippewa Valley) gave them a 31-16 edge, and a layup by senior center Angela Miller (Sicklerville, N.J./ Timber Creek) provided Brandeis with a 33-18 advantage with 1:18 remaining on the clock. Maroons' rookie guard Paige Womack (Plano, Texas/ Plano West) cut into the Judges lead with a 3-pointer just before the half to make it a 33-21 game at the break.

In the second period, Brandeis refused to allow the visitors back into the contest. Vitale's jumper with 13:35 remaining in the contest gave the Judges their largest lead of the game at 48-27 to cap a 15-6 run to open the half. Despite a spirited 11-0 run by Chicago following Vitale's bucket, the Maroons would never get within single digits. Rodriguez stopped the bleeding with her third basket from downtown and Brandeis went on to win, 68-50.

The Judges were led by Rodriguez's night of 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Senior forward Erika Higginbottom (Millbury, Mass./ Worcester Academy) joined her in double-digits with 10 points while classmate Courtney Ness (Norwich, Vt./ Hanover, N.H.) and Vitale led the reserves with eight points apiece. Starters senior center Samantha Anderson(Johnsonville, N.Y./ Hoosic Valley) and junior guard Kasey Dean (Southbury, Conn./ Pomperaug) each chipped in another seven points while Dean pulled down seven boards and Anderson had another five. Ness led the squad with 10 rebounds, nearly securing a double-double, and helped Brandeis to a 44-25 advantage on the glass. Rodriguez led the team with six assists while sophomore guard Hannah Cain (Gloucester, Mass./ Gloucester)added four helpers to go with a team-leading two blocks and three steals.

Chicago was led by junior guard Julie Muguira (Boise, Idaho/ Bishop Kelly) who scored 10 points including three trifectas, while sophomore guard Morgan Donovan (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Ursuline Academy) and Womack each added eight. Sophomore guard Claire Devaney (Washington, D.C./ St. Andrew's) had a team-high six rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Ellie Greiner (Cincinnati, Ohio/ Ursuline Academy) led the Maroons with two steals.

The Judges continue their UAA slate on Sunday February 17th on Senior Day against #14 Washington University (Mo.) with a 1:00 p.m. tip-off at Red Auerbach Arena. Chicago stays on the road for a UAA contest with NYU on the same day at 2:00 p.m.