Sports

Women’s basketball notches wins behind backcourt trio

Women’s basketball team climbs to second place in Ivy League after victories over Cornell, Columbia

By
Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, February 5, 2017

Team captain Megan Reilly ’18 snakes through the Cornell defense in Brown’s 72-67 win Friday. Bruno will hit the road this weekend for a double-header against Harvard and Dartmouth.

The women’s basketball team notched two conference wins Friday and Saturday against visiting Cornell and Columbia. Bruno (13-6, 4-2 Ivy) moved into a tie for second place in the Ivy League following the two victories.

The Bears kicked off the weekend’s action with a 72-67 win against Cornell (12-7, 3-3).

Bruno pushed the pace early, as is characteristic of Coach Sarah Behn’s style of play, but fast-breaks did not immediately come to fruition. While Cornell’s threes were falling, Bruno’s possessions often resulted in turnovers. The Big Red had an early 11-0 run, stretching their lead to 25-13 with 7:40 to play in the second quarter.

But Brown countered, launching a 22-9 run behind Justine Gaziano ’20, who had  11 second quarter points. The Bears shot 6-8 from three in the second stanza to make it a one-point game at the half.

The Bears were “penetrating but then kicking it out and making an extra pass,” said Behn. “That was great basketball.”

The third quarter saw the lead change hands between the two opponents but a 10-point surge from Taylor Will ’19 gave the Bears the 58-52 lead at the end of the frame.

The final stanza was a close affair. Cornell continued to threaten Brown and brought the game within two points several times. Despite the pressure, Brown held on for the 72-67 win.

Gaziano had 27 points in the win and was 5-5 from three. She is second in the Ivy League in points per game, averaging 18.2 per contest. The significance of Gaziano’s play as a freshman is not lost on her coach.

“She’s a really special player,” Behn said.

Will had 14 points in the win. She was the only other Bear in double figures.

Saturday’s game against Columbia (12-7, 2-4) followed a similar trajectory as the matchup with Cornell.

The Bears once again started out sluggish and the Lions lead 19-11 after the first quarter. But Shayna Mehta ’19 took over in the second. Mehta ran the offense with precision, pushing the tempo, finding slashing teammates and draining from three. She scored 14 of Brown’s 30 first half points but Bruno trailed 36-30 at half.

Mehta said that the team knows they have the ability to mount a comeback.

“We have great offensive threats,” she said. “We can never feel down because we know we can score.”

Having trailed the entire game, the third quarter was Brown’s time to take the lead.

Mehta drove to the low post, jump stopped, looked over her shoulder and hit a cutting Erika Steeves ’19 with a bounce pass through a tight window. Steeves laid it in with ease to knot the game at 38 a piece with just under six minutes to play in the third quarter.

It was a physical affair, but Brown stayed tough and fought to a 69-60 win, notching their second victory of the weekend.

Mehta said that the team loves playing in fast and physical games. She ended the game with 18 points and six steals and Will added 18 points of her own. With Gaziano, Mehta and Will, Brown boasts three of the top five scorers in the Ivy League.

Bruno has won six of its last eight and is peaking at the right time as Ivy League play continues.

“We haven’t had a real sweep in the middle of the season in about two years,” said Mehta. “It’s a big step ahead for us.”

Next weekend, the Bears go on the road to take on Harvard (16-3, 4-2) and Dartmouth (6-13, 1-5).