Women’s basketball mauled by conference rivals Tigers, Quakers

Bruno’s loss Friday gave Princeton most consecutive wins in program history

Senior Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Bears proved unable to shake off the Tigers this weekend, who claimed an 86-58 victory Saturday to maintain their perfect record.

Unable to build on positive momentum after notching several unexpected wins against Ivy rivals, the women’s basketball team dropped both games against conference elites Princeton and Penn over the weekend.

“Although we took home two losses, there are still positives to take away from the weekend as well as important corrections to make moving forward,” said Ellise Sharpe ’16. “We played Princeton extremely well compared to the other Ivy teams. We are looking forward to a rematch in two weeks.”

The Bears’ (9-13, 3-5 Ivy) first matchup of the weekend was against a dominant Princeton (23-0, 7-0) squad — currently ranked 16th in the nation. Knowing the Tigers’ offensive prowess, Bruno looked for a strong start to distance itself from its opponent. An almost instantaneous turnover from the visitors and an old-fashioned three-point play from Megan Reilly ’18 ignited a fire in the Bears early on. The home team managed to secure an 8-6 lead within the first three minutes of the contest.

Not to be bested, the Tigers countered Bruno’s attack and eliminated thoughts of an upset. Shortly after the layup from Kennedy Martin ’18 that gave Bruno an edge, Princeton responded with a shot from behind the arc, which spurred a surge for the squad’s formidable offense and coincided with a three-minute scoring drought for the Bears. The three-pointer also gave the Tigers a lead that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.

Despite efforts from Sophie Bikofsky ’15 late in the first half, the Bears faced a 20-point deficit when they headed to the locker room for halftime.

The second half began in the same manner as the first, as Bruno employed its fast-paced offense to outscore the Tigers 10-4 to start the period. In spite of the offensive push, the Bears still could not come closer than 13 points behind for the duration of the contest, and Princeton claimed the 86-58 victory and maintained its perfect record. Friday’s triumph over the Bears gave the Tigers the most consecutive wins in program history.

On Saturday, Bruno was able to quickly look past the previous night’s disappointment and again seized a quick lead over Penn (14-7, 5-2). Unlike the matchup against Princeton, the contest against the Quakers was a battle for almost the entire 40 minutes.

“We made changes Saturday in the things that we did not do well in the game Friday night,” Sharpe said.

The alterations were apparent as Bruno lit up the scoreboard in the game against Penn. The Bears and the Quakers both shot incredibly well throughout the game, with each team shooting above 55 percent in the first half. Much to the dismay of Bruno’s defense, five Penn players finished the game in double figures.

Leading the way for the Bears offensively was Jordin Alexander ’16. The guard recorded 31 points — the most scored in a game since Barbara Maloni ’04 dropped 40 against Penn in 2000. On the defensive end, the Bears outrebounded Penn. The efforts on the glass were led by Martin, who grabbed a team-high and career-best 13 boards while contributing 16 points to complete her first career double-double. Sharpe also posted career highs in rebounds and assists.

The first half, like much of the game, was a back-and-forth affair, with each team gaining the momentum for a few minutes before it was captured by the other. The first 20 minutes of action saw six lead changes. A shot from deep at the 13-minute mark gave the Quakers a two-point edge over the Bears and a lead that they would keep for the rest of the game.

Coming out of the half with an eight-point lead, the Quakers got on track to run away with the game with a couple of early buckets. But notable efforts from Alexander, Martin and Bikofsky slowed Penn’s attack. Unyielding intensity on both ends of the court enabled Bruno to narrow the margin to four points with just over a minute left in regulation, but the Quakers connected on seven of  13 free throws in the final seconds of the game and claimed the 83-75 win.

Bruno hopes to get back on track as it hits the road to take on Columbia (7-15, 1-7) and Cornell (14-8, 5-3) this weekend. The team will not dwell on the losses but will use the performances to re-examine troublesome areas of play, particularly transition defense and communication.

“We are using this past weekend as a teaching moment and moving on to the competitions we have starting Friday at Columbia,” Sharpe said. “After the losses, we are hungry for another win and we are using that as fuel for this weekend. We have the talent and determination to get another sweep.”

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