WALTHAM, Mass. – Lockdown fourth-quarter defense sealed a come-from-behind win for the University of Chicago women's basketball team as the No. 13-ranked Maroons outlasted Brandeis University 71-62 on Friday evening.
With the victory in its first conference matchup away from home, UChicago boosted its record to 12-3 overall (3-1 University Athletic Association). The Judges dropped to 6-8 (2-2 UAA).
UChicago trailed for most of the game before a third-quarter scoring burst pulled the visitors nearly even with the hosts. The Maroons proceeded to outscore the Judges 20-10 in the final 10 minutes, including a six-minute, eleven-second span over which they did not concede a single point while tallying 13 of their own.
The Maroon frontcourt duo of junior Taylor Lake and senior Ola Obi wore down their opposition over the course of the game. Lake finished with 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists, while Obi racked up 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting and 10 rebounds for a double-double.
First-year guard Kati Heller had the hot hand, drilling four of her six three-point attempts for 12 pivotal points. Junior guard Mia Farrell also contributed 12 points to go along with her four assists and four rebounds.
UChicago ended the game with slight edges in field-goal percentage (39.3 to 38.2), three-point shooting (34.6 to 27.8), and rebounding (37-34). The second-half totals, however, reveal the swing of the contest as stifling Maroon defense limited Brandeis to 7-for-28 from the field and 1-for-11 from three-point range in the third and fourth quarters.
The game got off to a halting start, with both teams turning the ball over seven times in the first quarter. UChicago converted just four of 15 attempts from the field, with eight of those attempts coming from beyond the arc and only one falling. Brandeis took control of the resulting battle on the boards, as a 13-8 advantage that included five offensive rebounds propelled the Judges into a 19-12 lead.
The Maroons leapt out of this early hole with a 12-3 run at the start of the second quarter that began when Farrell located an open Heller for a corner three. Heller sank one from the same spot the next time down the floor and when she could not make it three in-a-row, Lake grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back with a reverse finish that brought the score to 22-20. Not long after, UChicago forced another turnover and junior guard Miranda Burt capitalized with the tying layup.
After a Brandeis timeout, however, the hosts reclaimed the initiative. Close-range scores and a contested three-pointer put the Judges back out front 31-22 before the Maroons answered. The Brandeis lead would stretch to as many as 10 points as UChicago worked to cut down the margin but couldn't quite keep pace with the Judges' hot shooting.
The Maroons entered the half trailing 40-32, having shot 34.4 percent from the field and 3-of-16 from deep. The Judges, in contrast, went 4-for-7 from three and shot 51.9 percent overall. Although UChicago's defense produced more turnovers (12 to 10) Brandeis scored nearly twice as many points from those opportunities over the first two quarters of play.
Brandeis continued to score as the third quarter got underway, but a pair of threes from Farrell and Burt began to trim the deficit. At the five-minute mark, a scrambling offensive rebound kept a Maroon possession alive for Heller to drain another, leaving UChicago only four points behind. After a series of stops and a free throw from Obi, Farrell cashed in again to even the game at 48-48.
The Judges immediately nipped back in front as a fling from traffic at the end of the shot clock rolled into the basket. An exchange of free throws and a Lake layup left the Maroons down by one point heading into the final period.
Strong inside finishes from Lake and Obi gave UChicago a 55-54 lead with 8:04 to play. It was the Maroons' first lead since the going ahead 2-0 at the start of the game, and Burt quickly extended it with a three from the left wing.
With just under six minutes left, Farrell scooped up a steal and raced to the other end for a layup that made it 60-54. Heller swished her fourth three-pointer, and Obi earned a free throw that made it a 10-point lead.
All the while, the Judges had been unable to crack the outstanding Maroon defense. Two free throws got Brandeis back on the board with 2:58 to go after more than six minutes without a basket, but by this time UChicago had the result firmly in hand.
- Sunday, Jan. 20 @ 2:00 PM (ET) – UChicago at New York University