Case Western Reserve University senior guard Jess McCoy recorded season-highs with 24 points and 11 rebounds, but it was not enough for the Spartans, who suffered their first conference loss of the season, falling 81-69 at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts on Sunday afternoon.
The loss dropped the Spartans to 2-1 in University Athletic Association play this season and to 10-4 overall for the year. Brandeis improved to 10-4 on the year, including a 2-1 conference ledger. CWRU and Brandeis moved into a five-way tie for first place in the conference with Carnegie Mellon, Rochester, and Chicago, following Sunday's action.
McCoy shot nine-of-15 from the field, including four-of-eight from long range, en route to recording her second double-double of the season and the fourth of her career. McCoy's 24 points on Sunday give 963 for her career, moving her into 13th-place in school history and within 37 of becoming the 13th Spartan all-time to surpass 1,000 career points.
Sophomore guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann added 22 points on the day on a seven-of-14 shooting effort, including a five-of-seven performance from long range, with junior forward Kara Hageman chipping in 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Freshman guard Alicia Marie Gonzales finished the game with six assists, one shy of her career high.
The two teams exchanged leads for the majority of the first quarter, before sophomore guard Kasey Yu broke a 15-15 tie with a three-pointer with 2:12 left in the period to give CWRU a lead. After a pair of Brandeis free throws, the Spartans took advantage of a six minute, 20 second stretch spanning the first and second quarters during which the Judges did not connect on a shot from the field, as CWRU closed the opening quarter on an 8-0 run to take a game-high nine point lead after the first stanza.
The Spartans had a cold start of their own to the second quarter, with the team's only points in the first 7:30 of the period coming on a Hellmann three-pointer with 5:19 left that extending the CWRU lead to 29-21. However, the Judges responded with eight unanswered points to tie the game at 29-29 with 3:47 left in the half. The Spartans closed the first half strong with a pair of three pointers by Hellmann and one by McCoy pushing the lead back to eight with 55 seconds remaining, 39-31, and the team would carry a 41-36 lead into the halftime break.
The Spartans shot 52.9% from long range in the first half, including a perfect five-for-five from distance for Hellmann, who led all scorers with 17 points at the break. McCoy added 12 points and seven rebounds in the first half, shooting four-for-five from the field and two-for-three from beyond the arc during the first 20 minutes of action.
The third quarter would prove to be the most damaging for the Spartans. After the Spartans took a seven point lead, 47-40, with 7:49 to play following a layup by Hageman, Brandeis launched on a 23-4 run over the next six minutes of play, taking its first lead since the first quarter with 4:45 left in the third, and building its advantage to as many as 14 during the period. McCoy would hit a jumper and knock down a three in the final minute of the third to trim the Brandeis lead back to single digits, 66-57, heading into the final quarter.
The Judges would quickly build their lead back to 11 in the fourth, before an 8-0 Spartans run pulled CWRU back within three points, 68-65, with 6:54 to play. The Spartans were within three points as late as the 2:34 mark, before Brandeis was able to pull away down the stretch, hitting seven-of-eight free throw attempts in the final minute to secure the win.
Maria Jackson led Brandeis on Sunday with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Paris Hodges contributed a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Frankie Pinto added 14 during the game.
Case Western Reserve will return to Cleveland for its first home UAA games of the season next weekend, starting with a 6:00 p.m. contest against Emory University on Friday, January 20th at Horsburgh Gymnasium.