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Comeback helps women's basketball open year with road win over Vermont

Trailing by 12 in the second half, Bruno forces OT and grabs victory in Head Coach Behn’s debut

The women’s basketball team opened its season with an 81-76 road win over the University of Vermont Saturday that featured a career-best performance by Jordin Alexander ’16 in new Head Coach Sarah Behn’s first game.

The Bears started off strong with an early 5-0 lead, but the Catamounts quickly countered with a 16-5 run. Bruno then tied up the score at 18, but the rest of the half showcased a tug of war for the lead. The Bears displayed a strong defensive showing during the half, forcing nine turnovers and converting seven points off of them. Also, Alexander recorded a game-high 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting at the end of the half after missing the final 10 games of last season.

At the start of the second half, the Catamounts quickly added 10 more points to reverse a two-point deficit. With 11 minutes to play, Bruno faced a 60-48 disadvantage but managed a comeback and tied up the score at 74 with just 1:52 remaining.

“We got on a roll there in the last few minutes of the game with a few defensive stops from our press that resulted in quick baskets on the offensive end, and Vermont just could not recover,” Alexander said. “Coaching made a big difference towards the end as well.”

The Bears recaptured the lead off a layup by Alexander with just 77 seconds left of action. This lead marked the squad’s first advantage since 1:54 in the first half. Vermont attempted a comeback of its own, cutting the lead to 78-76 with just 12 seconds to play. But Bruno was not leaving without a victory, as free throws from Ellise Sharpe ’16 and Alexander sealed the victory for Brown. The Bears won the contest by a margin of five, 81-76.

The squad forced 21 turnovers, scoring 20 points off these miscues, while Vermont only forced the Bears to turn the ball over five times. The game marked a career high for Alexander with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting, greatly superseding her previous career high of 14. Reigning NCAA three-point percentage leader Sophie Bikofsky ’15 chipped in 17 points while first-year Janie White ’18 added 13 points and eight rebounds.

This past May, Behn was named the ninth head women’s basketball coach in the program’s history. Behn replaced former Head Coach Jean Marie Burr, who retired at the end of last season after her 26th year at the helm. During her tenure, Burr compiled a 324-379 career record, including 12 winning seasons and a trip to the NCAA tournament in 1994, which marked the first trip to the tournament for any women’s basketball team from the Ancient Eight.

Behn is a 1993 graduate of Boston College, holding the Eagles’ all-time scoring record with 2,523 career points. Behn’s father, Barry Behn ’62, was a two-time letter winner on the Bears’ men’s basketball team from 1960-62. Behn has spent the past three seasons as head coach at UMass-Lowell, where she amassed a record of 34-48 and oversaw the program’s transition from Division II to Division I play in 2013-14.

“Transitioning into a new coaching staff can be a real challenge, but Coach Behn has made the transition so smooth for everyone,” Alexander said. “I feel we have become very comfortable with the staff and really trust their system. This year, our style of play is much different than last and in years prior — we are really looking to play a fast-paced game both offensively and defensively, which really complements the players we have this year.”

Ralph Tomasso, Jesyka Burks-Wiley and Tyler Patch have been named assistant coaches for the Bears. Tomasso, Burks-Wiley and Patch each spent last season at UMass-Lowell before relocating with Behn to College Hill.

“The style of play that Coach (Behn) has implemented really allows our team to play without overthinking, and I think that has opened up a lot more opportunity for our players and allowed our girls to be more confident with their game,” Alexander said. “It is great that we were able to open up with a win after a tough week — this team has so much potential, and I am so excited to see what we can do the rest of the season.”

Up next, the Bears face off against Providence College in a cross-city matchup Tuesday at 7 p.m.


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