Sports

Women’s basketball upsets Ivy-leading Tigers on senior night

Clarke ’14, Beutel ’14 and Juker ’14 combine for 42 points in final home start and win

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, March 3, 2014

Lauren Clarke ’14 prepares to shoot a free throw. The senior scored 12 points in the loss to Penn but, in her final home start Saturday, dropped 24 against Princeton on the strength of 6-of-9 three-point shooting.

As the five seniors on the women’s basketball team said goodbye to the Pizzitola Center for the last time in their careers, the Bears secured a surprising victory Saturday with a 61-58 win over Princeton, then the Ivy leader, after losing 70-54 to Penn Friday. The win against the Tigers came in the Bears’ (9-17, 3-9 Ivy) last home game of the season and ended a streak of five losses in a row.

“It was nice to see that intensity all weekend against the top two teams in the league,” said Head Coach Jean Marie Burr.

 

Penn 70, Brown 54

The Quakers (19-6, 9-2) started out Friday night with an early lead, making a three-point jump shot 15 seconds into the game. Penn built on this momentum leaving Brown with an early deficit, as it brought the score to 9-2 three minutes into the game.

But unlike in previous games, Bruno was ready to fight back. By 13:51 in the first half, the Bears tied it up 10-10, and a minute later they pulled ahead when Lauren Clarke ’14 made a three-point shot. The Bears maintained the lead for some time, increasing their advantage to six points when Carly Wellington ’14 made another trey with 10:12 to go.

Unfortunately for the Bears, the Quakers managed a 20-3 run over the next eight minutes as Brown struggled to score against the best defense in the Ivy League. The game-changing run sent the Quakers into halftime with a 10-point lead, 36-26.

The second half started out the same way the first half finished. In the opening four minutes the Quakers went on a 10-2 run, leaving Bruno in an even bigger hole than before. Penn’s 18-point lead was the largest of the game.

The Bears managed to cut the deficit to single digits, briefly bringing the score to 50-41 with 11:23 to play, but the rest of the game was otherwise uneventful. Both teams struggled with very low field goal percentages in the second half, with Penn converting 32.1 percent and Brown making 30.8 percent. The Quakers mostly relied on free throws, converting 16 of 18 attempts in the second half.

The Bears suffered throughout the game against the tough Penn defense, which on average had only allowed 55.3 points per game. The Quakers out-rebounded the Bears on both offense and defense, finishing the game with 47 total boards to the Bears’ 25. Penn’s Sydney Stipanovich nabbed 13 rebounds and 14 points, earning her a double-double.

Burr said the two teams played evenly on most aspects, but the rebounds were the deciding factor of the game. “We just weren’t able to get the ball,” she said.

Kara Bonenberger led all scorers, netting 22 points for the Quakers. Wellington led the Bears with 15 points, all from her five-of-seven shooting from behind the arc. Clarke also scored double-digits, as she has done in all but three games this season, netting 12 points for Bruno.

 

Brown 61, Princeton 58

Saturday night was Senior Night, marking the last home game for seniors Sophie Beutel ’14, Clarke, Jessica Eason ’14, Jordin Juker ’14, and Wellington. Head Coach Jean Marie Burr celebrated this special night by putting all five seniors in the starting lineup against Princeton.

“They came in to rebuild the program, they came in to help us get back to the top,” Burr said about the seniors when they first the team. “They’ve sent that message … community service, academics, and Division I athletics; you can be successful at all three.”

The excitement and adrenaline of their last home game spurred the Bears into action, leading to one of the closest conference games of the season for the Bears. The impressive victory against the Tigers was the Bears’ first against Princeton (18-7, 9-2) since 2006 — a streak of 16 Bruno losses.

“Everyone wants to beat them (Princeton), they have a bull’s-eye on their back,” Burr said, referring to the fact that the Tigers have won the past four Ivy championships. “To do it is quite an amazing feat.”

Unlike in previous games, Bruno jumped out to an early lead in Saturday’s game, opening the score 4-0. Despite a brief minute with the Tigers ahead, the first half was all about the Bears.

Bruno stunned the Tigers with better offensive and defensive performances, making 66.7 percent of field goals and only allowing Princeton 35.7 percent in the first.

Both Clarke and Sophie Bikofsky ’15 scored double-digits in the first half, with 11 and 12, respectively, leading a Bruno offense that kept building its lead throughout the first half.

With 7:14 left in the first half, Bikofsky sank a trey that put the Bears up by eight points, 25-17. The Tigers attempted a comeback with five points in just over a minute, but Bikofsky repelled it with another trey. The Bears went into the locker room up 35-27, its largest lead of the game.

In the second half, the Bears lost some of the intense fire that had initially sparked their offense, and their efficiency fell as they converted only 38.1 percent of shots from the field.

Though Princeton turned up the pressure in the second half, the Tigers recorded an even lower percentage, making only 29.4 percent from the field.

The second half started out close, but a 9-0 Princeton run 10 minutes into the half complicated things for the Bears and put the Tigers ahead for the second time in the game, 46-42.

A quick trey from Clarke brought the Bears within one shot again, and the next couple of minutes were hard-fought as both teams took the lead multiple times. Brown finally got some room to breathe when Clarke’s sixth trey of the night put the team up 57-52 with 2:53 left to play.

With a minute and a half left Kristen Helmstetter tied it up again for Princeton, but Beutel and Juker added a few more for the Bears in a tense final minute consolidating only their third Ivy win this year.

Clarke’s 24 points made her the top scorer of the night, followed by Helmstetter with 20. Bikofsky and Beutel also scored in double digits, with 15 and 12 points, respectively.

The Bears will travel next weekend for their last two games of the season, against Dartmouth Friday and Harvard Saturday. Though neither Dartmouth nor Brown can improve their standing above sixth in the conference, Harvard will probably still be fighting for an Ivy League title.