Women’s basketball splits weekend vs NYU, Brandeis


Courtesy of CWRU Athletics

Second-year forward Kayla Characklis (center) lead the Spartans in their recent conference games, scoring 14 points against NYU and 15 points against Brandeis.

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

The Case Western Reserve University women’s basketball team holds a 1-2 conference play record following a 62-86 loss to New York University and a 57-49 victory over Brandeis University last weekend. The Spartans now hold a 6-8 overall record.

Against NYU last Friday, the Spartans hung around the Violets for much of the first quarter. Second-year forward Kayla Characklis led the team on both sides of the ball, scoring six of her team-leading 14 points in the first half to go along with a game-high nine rebounds.

The game started to slip away from CWRU in the second quarter. The Violets went on a 9-0 run in the first two minutes and exploded to a 27-14 lead. The two teams traded baskets for the rest of the half and the Spartans managed to stay within 10 points as the half expired with a 45-35 score favoring NYU.

The Violets’ lead ballooned to 20 points with about four minutes left in the third quarter and they kept the Spartans at bay to finish the game 86-62. 

Though CWRU shot 45.2% from the field and 50% from three-point land in the first half, their offense stagnated after halftime as the team finished shooting 36.9% overall. NYU shot 44.6% for the game and led in rebounds (51 to 40), assists (21 to 9), points off turnovers (18 to 8) and fastbreak points (15 to 6).

Third-year guard Isabella Mills contributed 12 points, five rebounds and six steals while fourth-year guard Abbey Lawrence notched 12 points, two assists and two rebounds.

“NYU is so good [and] really tough at each position,” said head coach Jennifer Reimer in an interview with the CWRU Athletic Department. “I thought it was wonderful for us in terms of exposing some of the things we’ve been trying to improve on.”

The Spartans had a quick turnaround after this loss as they went against Brandeis on Sunday. CWRU remained within striking distance for the first quarter, down six points heading into the second. The Brandeis Judges knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to start the second period and went up 21-12 with a little over nine minutes left in the half.

CWRU remained unfazed and kicked up their defensive intensity, holding Brandeis scoreless for about six minutes while mounting a 14-0 run to take a five-point lead with 3:02 left in the second quarter. The Spartans held on to a 31-28 lead at the midway break, shooting 44.4% overall and 60% from the 3-point line in the second after an abysmal offensive first quarter.

The lead steadily grew to nine points at the conclusion of the third quarter, but the Judges had other plans. In less than five minutes, Brandeis evened the score 49-49 and it was a new ball game in the final minutes. Fortunately, the Judges cooled off on the offensive end for the remainder of the game and the Spartans wound up taking the eight-point victory 57-49.

The Spartans had a relatively poor shooting night, finishing the game shooting just 30.6%. But the team made up for it with rebounds (53 to 40) and points off of turnovers (17 to 8).

Characklis led all players with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Mills and Lawrence notched 13 points each while third-year guard McKenna Gross added eight points off the bench.

CWRU clearly took some lessons from the NYU loss and plugged some holes on both sides of the court to take this win.

“We watched a little bit more of ourselves [from the NYU game] on Saturday’s practice in preparation for Brandeis,” reflected coach Reimer. “We took a hard look at some of the things that we need to do better and as a result, I thought we did those things much better on Sunday.”

The Spartans now look ahead to the upcoming weekend matchups against Emory University on Friday, Jan. 21 and the University of Rochester on Sunday, Jan. 23 with hopes of taking the momentum from the win into the thick of the UAA schedule.

“The energy was good going into [the Brandeis game],” said Characklis. “Hopefully it’ll keep us going into Emory and Rochester this weekend. It’s always good to play at home.

Hopefully, these two home games will be final ones without fans in the stands. With the updated COVID-19 guidelines, spectators will be allowed at CWRU home athletic events starting Jan. 24. Spartan fans will have the opportunity to support the team on the latter half of the four-game homestand, where CWRU will face the University of Chicago on Jan. 28 and against the Washington University in St. Louis on Jan. 30.