CWRU Aims to Bounce Back at Brandeis & NYU

Olivia Perkins dribbles the ball during the Spartans' game against Waynesburg

The Case Western Reserve University women's basketball team will look for a quick rebound after suffering its first two University Athletic Association losses of the year last weekend, when the Spartans continue their four-game conference road trip against Brandeis University and New York University. CWRU will face the Judges at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, January 31 in Waltham, Massachusetts, and then travel to New York, New York to battle the Violets at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 2.

at Brandeis (Friday, January 31 · 6 PM)
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at NYU (Sunday, February 2 · 2 PM)

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Case Western Reserve will enter the weekend with an 8-8 overall record, including an 0-6 mark in true road games and a 1-8 mark in all games away from home, including neutral-site contests. The Spartans are 3-2 in conference games this year, and are currently tied for third in the league standings. Both of the team's conference losses came last weekend, when the Spartans dropped an 88-60 decision at Rochester, and a 74-50 contest at Emory. The setbacks ended a six-game winning streak for CWRU.

The team is averaging 66.4 points per game this season on 39.5% shooting overall and 29.5% from three-point range, while allowing 67.8 points per contest. The Spartans' leading scorer is sophomore guard/ forward Abbey Lawrence, who is averaging 16.4 points per game, while first-year guard/ forward Isabella Mills is scoring 10.5 points per game and leading the team with 7.3 rebounds per contest.

The Spartans are under the leadership of Head Coach Jennifer Reimer, who currently holds a 304-269 record over her 23 years as a head coach, with 147 of her victories coming during her 13 seasons at CWRU.  Reimer is assisted by Kelly Muffley, and former Spartan standouts Erin Gdaniec and Kara Hageman.

Brandeis stands at 12-4 overall on the season, including a 7-2 mark in home games. Three of the team's four losses this year have come during their five conference games, as the Judges sit at 2-3 and in fifth place in league play. Brandeis is coming off a split of a road trip last weekend, defeating Washington 86-81 on Friday and falling in overtime to Chicago 68-60 on Sunday.

The Judges average 74.1 points per game this season, and are shooting 40.8% overall and 34.4% from behind the three point line. Defensively, the team has allowed 61.9 points per game this season. The Judges are also the best free throw shooting team in the country, shooting 79.0% from the line as a team this season. Brandeis has a pair of players averaging over 10 points per game this season, with junior guard Camila Casanueva leading the way with 13.9 points, and senior forward Hannah Nicholson adding 12.0 points per contest. Nicholson also averages a league-high 9.6 rebounds per game.

Brandeis is under the leadership of Head Coach Carol Simon, who is now in her 33rd season with the team, and has a career record of 453-377. She is assisted by Associate Head Coach Scott Foulis and assistant coaches Aseem Rastogi and Chelsea Houlihan.

The Spartans have won each of the last three meeting against the Judges, including both matchups last season. CWRU claimed a 67-64 victory at home against Brandeis on January 13, 2019, and then completed the season sweep with a 67-55 road win on February 10, 2019. Former Spartans Hillary Hellmann (21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Kara Hageman (15.5 points, 12.5 rebounds) led the team over the two games, while current junior forward Emma Cain added 8.0 points and 4.5 rebounds per game during the two contests against the Judges. CWRU is 20-32 all-time against Brandeis.

Friday night's game will be the first of two games between the teams this season, as Brandeis will make the return trip to play the Spartans in Cleveland a week from Friday.

NYU will enter the weekend with a 13-3 overall record, including an 8-1 mark at home, and will host Carnegie Mellon on Friday night before facing the Spartans on Sunday. The Violets are currently tied with the Spartans for third-place in the conference standings with a 3-2 league record. The team split its road conference slate last weekend, falling on Friday at Chicago, 82-71, while claiming an 81-77 win on Sunday at Washington. NYU received votes in the latest and WBCA polls.

NYU is the top scoring team in the UAA and the ninth-highest scoring team in all of Division III, averaging 80.4 points per game. The team is shooting 43.2% from the floor and 34.2% from three-point range, while allowing 63.0 points per contest this season. The Violets are also second in Division III with a 1.37 assist-to-turnover ratio and seventh with 18.8 assists per game. Junior guard Janean Cuffee leads the UAA with 21.3 points per game this season (10th in DIII), while first-year guard Brooklyn Shelton has added 14.4 points per contest and leads all Division III players with a 96.2% mark from the free throw line. Senior guard Annie Barrett has paced the league with 7.3 assists per game this season.

The Violets are coached by Meg Barber, who is now in her second season with the team, and has led the squad to a 30-13 record. She is assisted by Nettie Respondek, Audrey Cunningham, Taysha Pye and Emiko Smith.

Case Western Reserve is 12-40 all-time against NYU, but has won four of the last seven meetings between the two teams, including a split of the series last year. Each team claimed a win on their home court during the 2018-19 campaign, as the Spartans picked up a 72-62 win in Cleveland, and NYU came away with an 83-72 victory in New York. Hellman and Hageman each averaged 15.0 points per game in the two contests, while Lawrence came off the bench to score 10.5 points per game for CWRU.

NYU will also be making the trip to Cleveland next weekend, facing the Spartans on Sunday, February 9 for the squads' second and final matchup of the season.


  • Seven of CWRU's eight wins have come at home this season, where the team is undefeated through the 2019-20 campaign. CWRU averages 81.4 points per game compared to just 54.0 in road contests, and allows 66.7 points per game at home, while surrendering 71.2 in road games.
  • Graduate student forward Melissa Heath has amassed 30 blocks this season, the second-most among conference players and 76th among all Division III players, while her 1.88 blocks per game are also second in the league and rank 66th in Division III. The 30 blocks are also the 13th-most in a single season ever by a Spartan player.
  • Heath is also leading the conference with a 53.6% shooting percentage from the floor in 2019-20. She is on pace for the second-best single-season shooting percentage in program history, behind only Erin Rogalski's 53.9% mark during the 2000-01 campaign.
  • Abbey Lawrence is second among UAA players and 121st in Division III with 16.4 points per game this season. She is also shooting 83.7% from the free throw line, the 46th-best mark in Division III and fifth among conference players.
  • Senior guard Alicia Marie Gonzales has dished out 229 assists over her career, and is tied for the 10th-most in program history with former Spartan Jess McCoy (2013-17). She is two assists away from matching Brooke Orcutt for the ninth-most in CWRU history.