Women’s basketball clinches season opener at home against CCSU

After a slow start, Bruno beats Blue Devils 68-63 with 28 forced turnovers, powerful second half

Staff Writer
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Justine Gaziano ’20 led the Bears with 27 points against Central Connecticut State University. Though the team struggled with a poor shooting performance, it came out on top with a 68-63 win.

The women’s basketball team outlasted the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils in a physical battle at home Tuesday night, with 28 forced turnovers powering the Bears to the win in their season opener. Although Bruno shot just 21-64 from the field and 2-19 from beyond the arc, their persistent press on defense enabled them to triumph in the back-and-forth affair.

Brown earned a 12-1 record last season in non-conference play, and looked to get off to a similar hot start with a victory Tuesday. The Bears (1-0) started slowly, allowing the Blue Devils (0-1) to jump out to a six-point halftime lead, but they responded after the break and stormed back to beat CCSU 68-63. Guard Shayna Mehta ’19, who earned a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, was crucial to the Bears’ effort, as were guards Taylor Will ’19, who picked up seven steals, and Justine Gaziano ’20, who led Bruno with 27 points.

CCSU jumped out to an 8-4 advantage thanks in part to two layups by center Ashley Berube. The Bears answered with a 10-0 run, capped by two smooth jumpers by Mehta. A score by CCSU guard Emma McCamus boosted the Blue Devils, but Brown still held a 14-10 advantage after the first quarter.

The Blue Devils went on the offensive the second quarter, with guard Kiana Patterson leading the charge. Gaziano struck first in the period with a layup, but Patterson followed by nailing the first three-pointer of the game for either team. Later, after two consecutive scores by Patterson, CCSU guard Sydney Hines hit another three to give the Blue Devils a 26-22 lead. Gaziano’s consistent scoring kept the Bears in the game, but inaccuracy from the rest of the offense caused Brown to go into halftime down 33-27.

The Bears made defensive adjustments at halftime that enabled a second-half surge, according to head coach Sarah Behn. “We started mixing up the defense with pressure on and off. That allowed us to get some layups and take the lead,” she said.

By forcing 12 turnovers in the third quarter and committing just three, the Bears generated plenty of scoring opportunities for their offense. Bruno chipped away at the Blue Devils’ lead and headed to a media timeout down 39-37 with 4:34 left in the quarter. A three-pointer out of the timeout by Gaziano gave the Bears the lead, swinging momentum Brown’s way. The Bears added several more scores off CCSU turnovers, including a steal by forward Mary Butler ’19 that she turned into a layup, giving Bruno a 47-43 lead heading into the final quarter.

CCSU edged right back into contention after the Brown run. A Berube jumper and a Patterson three helped the Blue Devils tie the game at 48, and soon after another three by Patterson put them ahead 55-53. But Mehta led a 9-0 run for the Bears, which included a hard-fought rebound that clinched her double-double. The run allowed Bruno to pull away, and efficient play at the end of the game sealed the 68-63 win.

The Bears were able to win the game despite shooting 32.8 percent from the field, 10.5 percent from three, and 63.2 percent from the free throw line. Both Behn and Gaziano agreed that the poor shooting night offered room for improvement.

“We didn’t have a good shooting percentage from any area,” Behn said. “We have to and will improve that immediately. Normally we shoot the ball well.”

“We all need to get in the gym and get some shots up,” Gaziano concurred.

Forward Erika Steeves ’19 viewed the Bears’ ability to grind out the win despite offensive struggles as a positive. “The fact that we can shoot 10 percent from three and still win is a good sign,” she said.

The Bears will look to continue their strong start tonight at Bryant University (1-0), who defeated the University of Massachusetts Lowell 58-57 in their season opener Tuesday.

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