Sports

Women’s basketball drops both games of season-ending homestand

Exceeding expectations, Bears finish 2014-15 campaign seventh in conference standings

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, March 9, 2015

Jordin Alexander ’16 attempts a free throw at the Pizzitola Center. The guard recorded 17 points in the weekend’s home losses to the Big Green and the Crimson to conclude her standout junior season.

Unable to contain either opponent’s explosive offense, the women’s basketball team fell to Dartmouth and Harvard over the weekend in the final contests of the 2014-15 season.

Bruno (10-18, 4-10 Ivy) entered the weekend hungry for a pair of wins that would lift the squad into the upper half of the Ivy standings, but the losses leave Brown in seventh place in the Ancient Eight — just a seed above preseason poll predictions.

“We finished the season with heart, and we left it on the floor,” said Christine Rush ’15, a former Herald staff writer. “The games definitely didn’t go how we wanted them to, but we continued to fight with energy.”

The Big Green (14-14, 5-9) presented the first test of the weekend. Bruno managed to get on the board first with a layup from Kennedy Martin ’18, but the lead was short-lived, as the Big Green launched its dynamic offense about a minute later. Led by imposing center Tia Dawson, Dartmouth went on a 13-0 run in five minutes to storm past the Bears. Dawson, who averages just three points per game, was almost unstoppable in the paint and scored six of her 13 points during the Big Green’s onslaught.

Following Dawson’s lead, the rest of the Dartmouth squad exploited its slight height advantage and continuously got into the lane, where its interior offense generated 44 points.

After another layup and the first of many three-point shots from the Big Green, Head Coach Sarah Behn called a timeout to straighten out her team. After coming out of the huddle, the Bears attempted to claw their way back into the game. A pair of foul shots at the nine-minute mark from captain Sophie Bikofsky ’15 brought Bruno within four points of Dartmouth.

But the Big Green would not let Bruno come any closer, countering the Bears’ campaign with a series of quick layups and jumpers. A wide-open Dartmouth trey at the buzzer sent Bruno to the locker room charged with overcoming a 14-point deficit and its opponent’s potent offense. In the first 20 minutes of play, the Big Green connected on 56.7 percent of its shots from the field.

Returning to the court after halftime, Bruno managed to get a couple of quick baskets and cut the Big Green’s lead to 10. But three consecutive shots from behind the arc set Dartmouth on track to run away with the game. The visitors shot an impressive 54.2 percent from the floor in the rest of the contest, and four of their players finished the game with at least 11 points. The Bears’ defense was unable to contain Dartmouth, and the Big Green claimed the 71-53 win.

In the final contest of the season the next night, Bruno faced off against Harvard (14-14, 7-7). In honor of Senior Night, Rush and Nelly Weledji ’15 both started for just the second time this season, joining Bikofsky. The team’s three seniors were honored before the game.

“I will miss the atmosphere, all those bus rides, the hours in the weight room and of course the locker room dance parties,” Rush said. “I can honestly say this has been the experience of a lifetime, and I am so blessed to have had a career at Brown with such amazing people.”

The Crimson scored the first four points of the game, but a 10-0 run led by two baskets from Weledji gave Bruno a lead that it would struggle to hold onto for the rest of the contest. The first half proceeded in a seesawing fashion, with three ties and lead changes in the opening 20 minutes.

With a minute left, an old-fashioned three-point play from the Crimson equalized the score at 29. But tenacious play from Janie White ’18 resulted in a layup at the 44-second mark and a trey with two seconds left to give the Bears a five-point lead going into halftime.

Returning from the locker room, White swished another long-distance shot. Strong play from the entire team on both ends of the court allowed the Bears to extend their lead to nine points. But the Crimson was determined not to surrender easily.

Harvard’s campaign to overthrow Bruno continued to no avail until a layup from Temi Fagbenle with just under 10 minutes left gave the Crimson a lead it would not relinquish. From there, Harvard outscored Bruno 26-20 and claimed a 76-69 victory.

In spite of the loss, Bikofsky delivered a strong performance in her final contest. The captain recorded eight points and a team-high nine rebounds against Harvard. Bikofsky also finishes her career atop many of the program’s leaderboards. She boasts Brown’s best career three-point percentage, single-season free throw percentage and career free throw percentage.