This weekend took an unexpected turn for the UR women’s basketball team.
After a convincing 62-43 win against New York University on Friday, UR fell to Brandeis University, 52-50 on Sunday.

The ‘Jackets’ record drops to 20-2 overall and 9-2 in the University Athletic Association. With the loss, the team also moves down to second place in their conference behind Washington University in St. Louis, who sits atop the UAA with a 10-1 conference record.

In Friday’s game against the Violets, the ‘Jackets started out with hot shooting on a 10-3 run.

They weren’t able to keep the large advantage for long, however. NYU rallied to come within one point of UR midway through the first half.

The duration of the half was a back-and-forth battle until a little over two minutes left of play, when sophomore guard Melissa Alwardt pulled down an offensive board and then finished the play with a layup. The next time down the floor, she hit a 3-pointer and the Yellowjackets went into the break leading 28-22.

In the second half, the ‘Jackets came out with a vengeance, going on a 13-2 run. Alwardt hit two threes, junior guard Jessica Mastronardi had a trey and hit a jumpshot and senior forward Julie Marriott had a layup to give the UR a comfortable 17-point cushion.

About five minutes into the game, the Violets put together a 9-0 run to come within seven, but with seven minutes left to play, UR took control of the game for good.

A balanced attack produced 14 points split between five players, while tough defense held the Violets to just four points in the last seven minutes of play.

Alwardt had a solid game all around, leading UR with 19 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Mastronardi added 11 points, and Marriott tallied 10 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Ariel Evans also contributed six points and nine boards to the win.

Sunday’s game panned out in a completely different way.

The first half showed no signs of what would be the final outcome of the game.
After a slow five minutes, Brandeis went on a 7-0 run to take a 9-6 lead.

UR answered back with a run of its own that started at 11:19. Senior forward Alex Porter and Marriott hit a layup apiece, and Alwardt hit a three in just over a minute.

For the remaining 10 minutes of the half, the ‘Jackets’ tough
defense allowed only 10 points from the Judges, while they themselves scored 17 points with contributions from seven different players. Going into the break, UR was up 30-19.

The Judges came out with intensity in the second half. After five quick points from Alwardt, Brandeis hit back-to-back threes. At 15:11, they went on a 9-1 run to chip the lead down to four.

UR pushed it back up to nine with a three from Alwardt and a layup from Porter. After that layup and for the next eight minutes, however, the Yellowjacket offense went cold.
The Judges rallied to go on a nine-point run over a four-minute time span to take a 47-46 lead their first of the game.

UR was held scoreless until it reclaimed the lead with 3:12 remaining in the game, thanks to a layup from Porter. Brandeis then scored a basket, and Porter came back to hit both ends of a one-and-one.

With just one minute on the clock, a Brandeis player hit a jumper to take a one-point lead. UR failed to score on its ensuing play and the Judges gained possession of the ball.

The ‘Jackets then fouled a Brandeis player, who made the first of two foul shots and helped the Judges clinch the win, 52-50.

The loss was UR’s second of the season. Second-half shooting was key for the Judges,as they shot 50 percent compared to the ‘Jackets’ unusually low 25.9 percent.

‘I think we absolutely struggled offensively, especially in the second half,” senior guard Rachel Stern said. ‘You have to give Brandeis credit, because we were up by 13 and they just kept plugging away. At the same time, we have to just try to refocus for Friday because this weekend is huge.”

Just three games remain in the regular season.

Next weekend, UR takes on two formidable opponents.

The Yellowjackets travel to University of Chicago on Friday. Chicago handed UR its first loss of the season in January, when they came into the Palestra and beat the ‘Jackets by 20 points.

The Yellowjackets then battle Wash U for the second time this season on Sunday. The Bears are ranked No. 12 in this week’s poll and will be looking for revenge after UR beat them 65-62 in January at the Palestra.

UR will host Carnegie Mellon University the following weekend for their last regular season game. Six ‘Jackets will be playing in their final regular-season home game Marriott, Porter, senior guards Johanna McNelis and Rachel Stern, forward Marlena Fisher and grad student center Jessica Waddell.

Hilliard is a member of the class of 2010.

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