Sports

Bulldogs sweep women’s basketball in home-and-home to open conference play

Poor shooting, inability to make crucial stops stick Bruno with 0-2 start in Ivy League play

By
Staff Writer
Friday, January 29, 2016

Brown plays defense against in-state rival Rhode Island during its 67-63 win Dec. 1. Since then, the Bears are 6-3 but winless against Ivy foes.

Entering Ivy League competition, the women’s basketball team seemed poised for success. The team was 12-2 and had just bested Rhode Island College to sweep its in-state match-ups.

But suddenly, things began to go wrong.

At Yale (11-8, 2-0 Ivy), the Bears (12-4, 0-2 Ivy) encountered an opponent with whom they could not keep pace. Yale heavily out-rebounded Bruno, recording 52 rebounds to Brown’s 24. The Bulldogs also out-assisted the Bears, recording 14 helpers to the Bears’ five. After the Bears cut the deficit to five points in the second quarter, the Bulldogs pulled away, leading by 11 at the end of the first half and 15 at the end of the third quarter. Yale ultimately defeated the Bears 81-54. It was the Bears’ worst point differential of the season.

“We were a little under-prepared,” said guard Rebecca Musgrove ’17.  “We underestimated our competition. … A lot of people had it in their head, ‘Oh, we’re 12 and two, we’re so good’ — that kind of attitude going into it.”

“We lost focus,” agreed fellow guard Shayna Mehta ’19. “We were all ready to go; it was just unexpected. They’re Ivy League — we haven’t played anyone of that caliber yet.”

Six days later, the Bears would have an opportunity for redemption. The team met Yale once again, this time at home.

But the Bears found themselves victims of a sluggish start yet again, this time to a head-scratching degree. After Mehta made a layup to open the scoring and put Brown up 2-0, the Bears missed their next 12 shots. Mehta’s layup provided their only points of the first quarter.

“We had a different starting lineup, so it was rough transitioning into different players on the court,” Musgrove said. “Our shots just weren’t falling.”

“It was just a terrible shooting night for both teams,” Mehta said. “People have bad games; our team had a bad shooting game.”

Though the Bears did not shoot well, their defense was certainly effective and kept them in the game throughout the first half. In the first quarter, Yale scored only seven points. The Bears were down only five, a manageable deficit. Bruno quickly cut into that deficit in the second quarter, outscoring Yale 16-12 to end the first half down only one, 19-18.

“We had to clean up a lot on defense, and we really executed that,” Musgrove said. “We did some really good things.”

But Yale managed to maintain a slim lead, scoring key baskets every time the Bears got close. The Bears inched within three points of Yale four times, the last coming with less than four minutes remaining in the game. Each time, Yale responded by scoring, and the Bears were unable to shrink their deficit any further. After the Bears nearly levelled the score to 42-38 with under three minutes remaining, the Bulldogs ended the contest on a 7-0 run and defeated the Bears 49-38.

“It’s pretty frustrating, because we played pretty well. We had open shots, but none of our shots were going in,” Mehta said. “But we stuck with them the whole time, which was much better than the first game.”

Yale outplayed the Bears by nearly every statistical measure. Brown shot only 22.6 percent from the field and only 5.3 percent from three-point range. The Bears also missed nine free throws. Though the difference was not as stark, the Bears were outassisted, with only two to Yale’s eight, and once again out-rebounded, 49-37.

After the two losses, the Bears “are doing more drills to pick up our toughness,” Musgrove said. “We have forwards crashing the boards, and we have guards making sure we find people to box out.”

The Bears now face two consecutive road games against tough opponents. They will play Princeton (11-4, 0-1 Ivy) Friday and Penn (12-3, 2-0 Ivy) Saturday. Unless the Bears can dramatically improve on their performances against Yale, their Ivy League season may begin 0-4 — not the kind of start expected of a team that entered league play with a 12-2 record.

“We know that Penn and Princeton are the toughest two teams in the league,” Musgrove said. “We have to come together and make sure as a team that we go in confident.”

“We’re going to try our hardest and forget about Yale,” Mehta said. “New week, new season.”