Sports

After historic start, women’s basketball suffers first loss of season to Manhattan

With victory against Vermont, Bears secure 5-0 record for first time in program history

By
Staff Writer
Monday, November 30, 2015

Erika Steeves ’19 looks to pass the ball to an open teammate. The rookie has made significant contributions to the Bears’ efforts this season and contributed 24 points and 11 rebounds in the week’s contests.

After starting 4-0 for the first time in program history, the women’s basketball team rewrote the record books with a commanding win over Vermont. But the hot start had to end sometime, and it did in a back-and-forth loss to Manhattan.

Brown 71, Vermont 54

The Bears (5-1) started slow against the Catamounts (1-5), whom they defeated by only five points last year. After the first quarter, they trailed 17-13. But as has been the case all season, they did not fade and started the second resurgent.

“When the game was close, we were not doing our best on defense,” said Co-Captain Ellise Sharpe ’16. “When we play our best defense — our zone — we mess the other team up and force turnovers, and that’s when we pull away.”

“A lot of it is us learning each other’s strengths and learning how to play with each other,” said Co-Captain Jordin Alexander ’16. “As the season goes on, we should be able to come out right away and get that lead from the start.”

Erika Steeves ’19 hit a jump shot to open the second quarter, and then Vermont’s Lauren Handy made a layup, putting the Catamounts up 19-15. This would be the extent of Vermont’s scoring in the second quarter. Bruno proceeded to score 20 unanswered points, ending the quarter on a layup from Kennedy Martin ’18, and the Bears led 35-19 at the half.

“We kept our pressure up, and we kept pushing it,” Sharpe said. “Usually we try to keep teams to 15 points a quarter, and we kept them to two, so everyone was pretty happy with that.”

After taking a 16-point lead, the Bears maintained control for much of the remainder of the game. Vermont cut its deficit to five twice with as little as 1:14 remaining in the third quarter, but Bruno responded: Threes from Shayna Mehta ’19 and Janie White ’18 had the lead back to 11 by the time the quarter ended. The Bears then outscored their opponents 16-10 in the final quarter to seal the win.

“This year we’ve done such a tremendous job at keeping our lead and not letting other teams back in the game,” Sharpe said. “That’s given us the 5-0 record that we wanted.”

Four Bears scored in double digits: Alexander had 14, Mehta had 12 and White and Rebecca Musgrove ’17 had 11 each. White also recorded nine rebounds — coming within one of a double-double — and added seven blocked shots.

“Every game can be somebody different, and that’s what makes our team great,” Sharpe said.

“There’s not one person that the other team can focus on to shut down because there are just so many options,” Alexander said. “When one player’s having an off night, someone else steps up. When we have a lot of threats out on the floor, it’s hard to shut us down.”

The Bears’ second-quarter success can largely be attributed to the aggressive full-court pressure that is quickly becoming Brown’s defining characteristic. Bruno’s defense held the Catamounts to just 6 percent shooting in the quarter. 

Head Coach Sarah Behn placed an emphasis on implementing more aggressive full-court pressure throughout the preseason, Alexander said.

“We have a lot of quick guards, so we want to use our speed. And we’re pretty well conditioned, so we can use that to our benefit by pressing teams for almost the entire game,” she said. “It’s definitely something we’ll stick with, and it’s proven beneficial so far.”

With the victory, the Bears’ season record moved to 5-0 for the first time in history. The previous 4-0 record was set in 1991.

“We’ve never been 5-0, so it’s a big accomplishment for us,” Sharpe said. “It gives us a lot of encouragement going into the next stretch of games. On the Ivy League website, it said something about ‘the unlikely Ivies that are undefeated,’ so they were kind of putting us down for being undefeated. We’re going to prove the Ivy League wrong.”

Manhattan 80, Brown 56

Playing in unfamiliar territory against the Jaspers (2-3) in New York, the Bears suffered their first loss of the season.

The majority of the contest did not resemble a 24-point loss so much as a tightly fought battle. With little more than four minutes remaining in the third quarter, Mehta made a layup, bringing the Bears’ deficit to 40-37. Steeves then hit a shot of her own, bringing the Bears within one at 42-41.

“We got into a little bit of a groove, and we started playing really well,” Musgrove said. “As soon as we got back into the game, we had a stupid foul and a few bad turnovers, and they just came right back at us.”

The Bears came within one point of the lead, but the Jaspers pulled away. Manhattan ended the third quarter on a 12-2 run and scored five more unanswered points to begin the fourth.

“They changed up their defense to play against our press, which was smart on their part,” Musgrove said. “It really hurt us, because they pulled off their press and they clogged up the middle, so we weren’t able to get to the basket, like we normally like to score. That frazzled us and got us out of playing how we normally play.”

After building its lead, Manhattan controlled the game. The Bears’ defense, which had previously allowed no more than 61 points in a game, faltered and allowed 26 in the fourth quarter. The Jaspers won commandingly, holding the Bears to only 13 fourth-quarter points.

“We fell back into man or our 3-2, and we didn’t really focus on the key players that we should have been focusing on,” Musgrove said. “We lacked in the area of finding their three-point shooters — (Taylor Williams) killed us. We also didn’t contain very well, which we normally do.”

Steeves led the Bears in scoring with 15 points, and Musgrove  had 11. Steeves also paced the team with seven rebounds, and Alexander  recorded four of the Bears’ eight assists.

After the loss, the Bears are now focused on regrouping for their next games. They will play Rhode Island Tuesday and Binghamton Thursday, both at home.

“It’s very important to put this one behind us and just move forward and bounce back real quick,” Musgrove said. “We just have to clean up our mistakes, and I think we’ll be fine.”