The women's basketball team bounced back from halftime deficits against Columbia and Cornell this weekend to grab two key conference victories. Despite struggling offensively both nights at the Pizzitola Center, Bruno (14-8, 5-3 Ivy) utilized an aggressive defense to defeat the Lions (2-19, 0-7) 72-63 Friday and the Big Red (9-12, 3-4) 60-49 the following day.
Brown 72, Columbia 63
Entering the first game of the Ivy weekend, the Bears held a .500 Ivy record at 3-3 and were looking for a weekend sweep to move up in the Ivy standings.
But in the first half, the Bears struggled to find the basket. They shot just 32 percent from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc, while the Lions shot 41 percent from the field and 50 percent at the three-point line. This difference put Columbia in the lead heading into the locker room 31-29 and just 20 minutes away from its first Ivy win of the season.
"On Friday, Coach (Jean Marie) Burr said that we were ‘waiting to win,'" said guard Lindsay Nickel '13. "We didn't have the same aggressiveness, the same focus that we've had previous weekends."
But Brown remained resilient, and for the next 20 minutes, the Bears and Lions were neck-and-neck, trading baskets and steals.
The two teams were still deadlocked at the end of the half, and Bruno headed into overtime for the second consecutive weekend. Last week, the Bears came away with a 59-55 overtime win against Penn.
This week, Bruno again stepped up in extra time, led by its defense. Two steals from guard Sheila Dixon '13 and one from co-captain Hannah Passafuime '12 in the final minute and a half allowed the Bears to pull ahead comfortably, and at the buzzer, the Bears had wrapped up a 72-63 victory.
"We've had a lot of experience with playing overtime this season," Nickel said. "I don't think that playing overtime makes us nervous. We kind of embrace it now."
Dixon led Brown with 20 points — including eight of Bruno's 15 overtime points — and added eight rebounds and five steals. Nickel and Passafuime contributed 11 points apiece.
Brown 60, Cornell 49
The Bears again struggled offensively in the first half Saturday night. But unlike the night before, both squads suffered from poor shooting. Both Cornell and Brown hovered around a dismal 25 percent shooting percentage in the first 20 minutes, which resulted in a low-scoring half, ending 20-14 in Cornell's advantage.
But the second half was a whole new game for Bruno. The Bears found their stroke, pouring in 46 points in the second half and improving their shooting percentage to 44 percent.
"At halftime, we knew that it was a poor showing and that we'd better get it together quickly," Nickel said. "We do trust each other as teammates, and I don't think there was ever sense of panic, but we knew we had to play with more urgency."
Though the Bears' offense came alive, the Big Red also hung around for most of the second half. The score was deadlocked six times, including with 4:30 left in the game. It was then that guard Lauren Clarke '14 took the reins and hit a trey to spark a 17-9 run that propelled Brown to victory.
Dixon led the Bears again Saturday night with 16 points.
The Bears are hosts again this weekend, taking on Harvard (12-9, 5-2) and Dartmouth (3-18, 1-6) Friday and Saturday evening, respectively, at the Pizzitola Center. Currently, the Bears are in fourth place in the standings, and a pair of wins could potentially propel them into second place. Saturday's game against the Big Green is Brown's annual "Pink Zone" game, supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.