A trip to New York for the women’s basketball team yielded split results, as the Bears fell to Ivy cellar dweller Columbia but were able to best a formidable team in Cornell. The results reverse prior outcomes of the same matchups earlier in the season: Bruno previously lost to the Big Red but beat the Lions. Despite the .500 weekend, the Bears now hold sole possession of fifth place in the Ivy League.
After a rough defensive performance against the Lions, “We really tightened up our zone on Saturday night, and that was the key to our victory against Cornell,” said Ellise Sharpe ’16.
Columbia 83, Brown 74
Heading into this game, the Bears looked to avoid a mirror image of last season’s matchups against Columbia (8-15, 2-7 Ivy), in which the Bears (10-14, 4-6) prevailed in the first meeting but could not duplicate this success in the second. Unfortunately for the Bears, history repeated itself, as they fell to the Lions by nine points. Sophomore Devon Roeper’s career night — which included 27 points on 11-of-15 shooting — was pivotal in her team’s triumph.
The game was a battle of runs. Roeper nabbed the first basket of the game, and the Bears responded with a 7-0 run. Not to be outdone, Roeper and Tori Oliver, the team’s leading scorer and second leading Ivy scorer, led Columbia on a 14-2 tear. The teams continued to trade baskets until Brown’s leading scorer, Jordin Alexander ’16, tied the game at 20 apiece.
The Lions tried to distance themselves by obtaining a lead as large as 12. By halftime, they were up nine, thanks in large part to the sophomore duo of Roeper and Oliver — who combined for 26 points by the break — and a blistering 51.5 shooting percentage. On the other hand, Bruno’s own offensive duo of Alexander and Sophie Bikofsky ’15 had a total of 22 at halftime.
Roeper’s stellar night continued in the second half. She scored nine of her team’s first 13 points of the half, and Columbia saw its lead balloon to as much as 16. But she had to go the bench when the team was up by 10 because of foul trouble. Immediately, the Bears went on a 7-0 run to pull within three. Camille Zimmerman of the Lions squashed Bruno’s comeback attempt, scoring six unanswered points. Columbia never looked back, winning 83-74.
The Bears were mauled on the boards as Columbia out-rebounded them by an impressive 16 boards. Additionally, in the teams’ original meeting, Bruno was able to frustrate its foe by forcing 28 total turnovers. This time around, the team could not take advantage of Columbia’s Ivy-worst turnover margin of -3.74, only forcing 12 turnovers and coughing up 12 of its own.
Brown 58, Cornell 51
The Bears did not wallow in the disappointment of the dropped game against Columbia for too long, as they took on their other New York rival, Cornell (15-9, 6-4). Led by Natalie Ball ’16 and her 14 points, Brown evened the season series against the Big Red with a seven-point victory. This defensive battle starkly juxtaposed the Bears’ shootout from the night before.
Coach Sarah Behn tapped four players to get their first career starts. Four minutes into the game, the new starters were keeping pace with their opponents at a score of 7-7. Then some of the usual starters for the Bears checked into the game. The Big Red attempted to take control of the match by grabbing a quick 10-point lead.
Ball and company battled back with eight consecutive points to cut the lead to two, and Ball ended the half with five unanswered points to give Bruno a slim two-point advantage at halftime.
After the break, Cornell came out firing with an 8-0 run. But that hot start quickly transformed into ice cold shooting from the floor: They missed their next 12 shots and did not make a field goal for nearly 10 minutes.
“They could not get their offense going and penetrate in the paint,” Sharpe said.
Despite this poor stretch for the Big Red, the Bears could not capitalize on Cornell’s poor shooting, though they did manage to tie the game at 39 with about nine minutes left. Cornell finally ended its drought with a three from Kerri Moran to take the lead. But the Bears dashed Cornell’s hopes of victory by ending the game on a 15-4 run.
Brown and Cornell possess two of the conference’s top three turnover margins at +2.54 and +2.08, respectively. Takeaways played a key role in the game, as the Bears scored 20 points off of Cornell’s 19 turnovers compared to the Big Red’s 14 points off of 13 Brown turnovers.
Cornell’s typically efficient offense sputtered against Brown, shooting just 38.5 percent from the field, thanks in large part to a poor stretch in the second half. Though leading Ivy scorer Nia Marshall, who averages 17.3 points per game, managed to net 16 points for the Big Red, Brown’s defense was able to neutralize many of its opponent’s other offensive weapons, holding Cornell’s bench to a meager nine points.
“By focusing on defense, our offense came naturally and Cornell continued to turn the ball over, especially down the stretch,” Sharpe said. “Everyone contributed in our game against Cornell, and we had really great energy.”
Next weekend, Brown will travel to the conference’s top two juggernauts in undefeated Princeton (25-0, 9-0) and Penn (16-7, 7-2) in the hopes of reaching the .500 mark in conference play.