The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team clinched a winning campaign on Sunday afternoon with a 67-55 triumph over Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
The win ended a six-game skid for the Spartans, who improved to 13-9 overall and to 5-6 in the University Athletic Association. It marked CWRU's second winning season in the last three years, and the 16th overall in the program's history. It is the seventh winning campaign during Head Coach Jennifer Reimer's 12 years with the squad.
The victory also gave the Spartans a sweep of the two-game season series against Brandeis, which dropped to 7-14 on the year overall with a 3-8 conference record.
The duo of senior guard/ forward Hillary Hellmann and graduate student forward Kara Hageman combined for 37 points in the game to lead the Spartans. Hellmann led all scorers on Sunday with 20 points, shooting nine-of-18 from the floor and two-of-seven from three point range, while collecting eight rebounds, two assists and blocking three shots. Hageman notched her ninth double-double of the season and her sixth in league play, finishing the game with 17 points and 11 rebounds, while shooting six-of-11 overall and three-of-seven from behind the arc. Hageman also added three assists, a team-high four steals, and a pair of blocks.
Hellmann opened the game with a three on the Spartans' first possession, and CWRU would continue to lead for the majority of the first period, going ahead by as many as six points after a three by Hageman with 7:07 to play gave her team a 10-4 advantage. The Judges would eventually take the lead, 15-14, on a pair of free throws with 3:20 left in the period, and the two teams continued to exchange leads for the remainder of the quarter. Down two in the final seconds of the opening stanza, sophomore forward Emma Cain knotted the game at 20-20 heading into the second period with a jumper as time expired, and the Spartans would never trail again in the game.
CWRU scored the first eight points of the second quarter, including threes by Hageman and Hellmann, to go ahead 28-20. Overall, the Spartans went on a 19-4 run between the end of the first quarter and the 4:14 mark of the second, taking a 13-point lead, 37-24, over Brandeis, and closed out the opening half with a 40-31 lead over the Judges.
Hellmann and Hageman combined for 27 of the Spartans' 40 points in the opening half, with Hellmann scoring 14 and Hageman 13. As a team, CWRU shot 45.7% (16-of-35) overall and 42.9% (six-of-14) on three-point tries during the first half of play.
Baskets by junior guard Kendall McConico and Hellmann helped the Spartans increase their lead to 13 points during the opening minute of the second half. CWRU maintained a double-figure lead for most of the third quarter, and a layup by freshman guard Abbey Lawrence at the end of the period gave the Spartans a 56-42 lead heading into the fourth, their largest of the game to that point. The Spartans led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter, before closing out the 12 point win.
The Spartans finished the game shooting 44.1% overall and 33.3% from three-point range, while making seven-of-eight free throw attempts (87.5%). In addition, CWRU limited Brandeis to just 28.6% shooting overall and 26.1% from behind the arc.
Hannah Nicholson was the only Judge to finish in double-figures, scoring 13 points in Sunday's game.
With their regular season road schedule now behind them, the Spartans will return home for their final three games of the 2018-19 season, all against conference opponents. Case Western Reserve will begin the home stand on Friday, February 15th against Emory University at 6:00 p.m.