Women’s basketball win Turkey Tip-Off tournament

Steeves ’19, Gaziano ’20, Will ’19 lead Bruno in victories over Hampton, Pacific University

Senior Staff Writer
Sunday, November 26, 2017

The women’s basketball team followed up its tough home loss against the nationally-ranked University of California at Berkeley with a trip to the Golden State to play in the University of the Pacific’s Turkey Tip-Off Tournament. Brown advanced to the championship game after a 73-66 victory over Hampton University in the first round and then defeated the hosts 74-57 to claim the crown.

“Going into it, everyone was really excited,” said co-captain Erika Steeves ’19. “The tournament was very competitive, so we had a chance to prove ourselves.”

Brown 73, Hampton 66

The Bears (4-1, 0-0 Ivy) opened their tournament run by holding off the Pirates (2-3) Friday afternoon. Hampton took an early seven-point lead, but Bruno bounced back after  an offensive run that brought the team within one point of the Pirates at the end of the first quarter.

Steeves went on to record her first double-double of the season, accounting for 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.

Bruno took over in the second frame, riding a 14-2 scoring run highlighted by three-pointers from Steeves and Shayna Mehta ’19 to outscore the Pirates by 11 in the quarter. Justine Gaziano ’20 added another three and a last-minute layup to give Brown a 35-25 edge at the half.

Gaziano led the team in scoring with 21 points and was automatic from the free-throw line, hitting a perfect 10 for 10. As a whole, the team netted over 82 percent of its free throw attempts.

Defensively, the Bears showed improvements from their previous games, nabbing 34 rebounds — seven more than they averaged across their first three contests — and holding Hampton to zero fast break points.

Brown maintained its lead in the second half, but the Pirates fought hard for the comeback and cut their deficit to 59-57in the final five minutes. Bruno relied on experienced starters to preserve the advantage.

“Coach Behn has been really big on leadership from our veterans this year because it’s the first year that we really have solid leadership from the older girls,” Steeves said. “At the end of the game, that’s when it really showed that we were more mature. In past years, that’s where we would have caused some turnovers and maybe allowed Hampton to take the lead. In the last minutes of the game, that’s when our veterans stepped up, and we stayed composed.”

That composure resulted in an 8-0 spurt that extended Bruno’s lead, and, as Brown held Hampton scoreless for 4:34, Gaziano drained six free throws in the final 48 seconds to secure the victory.

Brown 74, Pacific 57

With the Turkey Tip-Off title on the line, Bruno took to the court Saturday with a clear goal.

“The biggest thing was proving ourselves,” Steeves said. “As a team that is invited to a tournament and then playing that host team on (its) home court, some would count that as a disadvantage to us, but we went into it with an attack mentality. … We didn’t come into it scared.”

The Bears took an early lead and stayed on top for nearly 39 minutes of the 40-minute game, dominating the Tigers (3-2) on their home court. Pacific posted 106 points in its first game of the tournament, but Brown held the hosts to only 27.1 percent shooting and outshot them 34-20 in the paint during the championship game.

Taylor Will ’19 opened the game with a pair of layups and scored eight of Bruno’s initial 10 points en route to a game-high 23 points. Matching threes from Mehta and Kathleen Ryan ’20 gave Brown an 18-10 edge, and a buzzer-beater by Mehta put the Bears up 21-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Steeves made her presence known in the second stanza, nailing a 17-foot jumper and tallying five of her game-high 14 rebounds on her way to a second double-double.

The Tigers crept within eight points of the Bears in the final minutes of the half, but Brown held its lead and went into the locker room up 40-32.

Will continued her hot streak in the second half, netting six of the eight points Bruno tallied in the opening minutes. After a late three-pointer by Will, Mehta scored Brown’s final five points of the third to give the Bears a 58-41 lead going into the last quarter.

Three layups from forward Janie White ’18 and a pair of free throws by Steeves put the Bears up by 21 with 4:40 left on the clock. As the Tigers scrambled for a comeback in the final minutes, Herald staff columnist Randi Richardson ’20 and co-captain Megan Reilly ’18 added a layup and two free throws respectively to settle the final score at 74-57 and clinch the victory.

“It shows a lot of promise for when we do get to the Ivy League games,” Steeves said. “It was a really promising team effort, and we’re all excited to get back into it.”

The Bears return home to host the College of the Holy Cross Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. before taking on Providence College in the first round of the Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament Dec. 2.