After struggling through a tough non-conference schedule, the women's basketball team has finally started Ivy League play. The Bears (4-12, 0-2 Ivy) started the season with two tough losses to Yale (6-10, 2-0), and continue their conference tour this weekend with a matchup against Princeton (12-3, 1-0), the returning Ivy League champions.
It has been a rough January for the Bears. The team has yet to net a win this calendar year and is struggling to readjust after losing point guard Lauren Clarke '14 to a shoulder injury.
Though only a first-year, Clarke has already made significant contributions to the team. She quickly worked her way into the starting five and is the third-highest scorer on the team this season, averaging 9.9 points per game.
But in the second game against Yale last week, Clarke sprained a ligament in her shoulder diving after a loose ball. The temporary loss is substantial, and according to Head Coach Jean Marie Burr, the team looks forward to her recovery.
"The loss of Lauren Clarke as point guard will require a lot of changes, and the team is still dealing with the adjustments," she said.
The game against Yale was the second of a home-and-home series. The games took place a week apart, and the Bears suffered losses at both New Haven and the Pizzitola Center. In the Ivy opener at Yale, the Bears were able to secure an early lead with the help of guard Sheila Dixon '13, who scored 13 points in the first half. Brown held onto a slight three-point advantage at the half, 25-22.
After halftime, Yale forward Janna Graf helped Yale take the lead away, scoring 15 points in the first 12 minutes. The Bears regained the lead briefly with seven minutes remaining, but Yale fought back to take the game, 66-54.
Despite the losses, Burr said that the team was evenly matched with Yale in the second game at home.
"We were on the same playing level as Yale, but we lost to them in the second half — adjusting to the loss of Lauren as point guard was difficult," she said.
The second half of the next game was slow for the Bears, but they showed signs of life and cut their deficit to only four points with 7:37 remaining. The Bulldogs responded, erupting for 23 points in the final minutes to take the game and the season series. Guard Lindsey Nickel '13 led the Bears with 17 points and six rebounds.
Before they took on Yale, the team wrapped up its non-conference schedule. The Bears traveled to Monmouth University (13-6) for the Hawk Holiday Classic and defeated the Hawks, but failed to clinch the tournament title in the championship game against American University (14-5), falling 56-47.
The Bears hosted the final two games of the non-conference season, but came away with disappointing results. In Bruno's first game of 2011, the squad suffered a defeat to the Buffalo University Bulls, 58-53, in a tight contest at the Pizzitola Center. In their last game before the Ivy schedule began, the Bears squandered a lead against the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the second half and were defeated, 63-61.
Despite the disappointing results, Burr said she has faith in her team's ability to bounce back for the rest of the season.
"We have had pretty solid leadership from our captains, Aileen (Daniels '12) and Hannah (Passafuime '12), and we have done a good job at spreading the wealth offensively," she said.
Both Daniels and Passafuime have recently posted career-high numbers. Passafuime recorded her first double–double, scoring 13 points and collecting 12 rebounds in the game against Buffalo. Daniels scored a career-high 20 points against the NJIT Highlanders. Dixon also proved to be an offensive threat in recent games, leading the Bears with 21 points in the first Yale game.
"Sheila Dixon is explosive, fun to watch and unpredictable," Burr said. "She does a good job dishing out assists."
The Bears will continue to rely on this leadership in upcoming Ivy challenges. This weekend, the Bears will host Princeton on Friday and Penn on Saturday at the Pizzitola Center.