In a tough weekend on the road against the top two teams in the Ivy League, the women’s basketball team lost both games, quashing its chances of finishing the season with a .500 record. The Bears lost by an aggregate total of 29 points after being blown out by Penn and hanging close but ultimately falling to nationally-ranked Princeton. The weekend also saw Sophie Bikofsky ’15 etch her name in the annals of Brunonian history by scoring her 1000th point.
Penn 75, Brown 58
Just two weeks ago, the Quakers (18-7, 9-2 Ivy) squeaked by the Bears (10-16, 4-8) by an eight-point margin. In the teams’ rematch last weekend, the defensive-minded Red and Blue prevailed again, this time by an even wider margin of 75-58, taking the season series against Bruno. Penn had four starters in double figures, with elite sophomore center Sydney Stipanovich leading the way with 18 points. Bikofsky paced the Bears with 13.
The contest started out as a heated game of tug-of-war: There were five lead changes within the first four minutes of the game. The back-and-forth affair halted when Penn broke out for a 12-0 run and snatched a 17-6 lead midway through the half.
Brown’s high-scoring offense — the second best in the Ivy League — was held without a field goal for more than six minutes. The half continued with alternating offensive spurts from each team before Penn took a nine-point lead heading into the break.
The Bears managed to cut the lead to eight thanks to a Bikofsky three-pointer before the Quakers rattled off a back-breaking 9-0 run to extend their lead to 17. Penn controlled the game from that juncture, never letting its lead dip below 14 and peaking at a 23-point gap. The Bears were held to 33 percent shooting in the second half, while their opponent made a staggering 48 percent of its attempts.
“We got off to a good start but just fell flat soon after and could not recover,” said Jordin Alexander ’16.
Defense was the name of the game for the hosts. They showed off their prowess by holding Bruno to a meager 35 percent shooting for the game.
The towering duo of Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi anchors a Quaker defense that ranks first in the conference in blocked shots and second in scoring and field goal percentage defense. The aforementioned are the top two shot blockers in the league, averaging a combined five per game. Together they rejected seven shots on the night.
Bruno found it difficult to generate any offensive rhythm in the loss. Alexander, who leads the team in scoring and netted 31 points in the team’s last meeting with Penn, only managed to post six points on 3-of-10 shooting. Though Bruno did manage to convert 15 Quaker turnovers into 19 points, it could not match the offensive efficiency of its opponent.
Princeton 79, Brown 67
The Bears followed the blowout against Penn with a closely contested battle against undefeated No. 14 Princeton (27-0, 11-0). The Tigers are undoubtedly the best team in the Ivy League, ranking as the number one squad in nearly every major statistical category.
Despite having been routed by the national powerhouse by 28 points earlier in the season, the Bears stayed fairly close to the Tigers for much of the game. Alexander rebounded from her poor shooting performance the day before by posting 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting, but the Bears still came up short. Michelle Miller led the way for Princeton with 20 points.
The game started out positively for Bruno: It jumped to a 13-12 lead within the first eight minutes. Princeton responded with a 12-2 run punctuated with a trey by Miller, who is one of the top three-point shooters in the conference. The teams continued to trade baskets and free throws, and while the Bears came within three on two separate occasions, the Tigers were up by five at halftime.
The first half also saw a historic moment for senior captain Bikofsky. She sank a free throw for that elusive 1,000th point, becoming the 18th player in the program’s history to reach such a mark.
The Tigers came out firing with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 12. Alexander stopped the bleeding with a jumper of her own, only for Princeton’s star guard Blake Dietrick to come back up the floor and score three the old-fashioned way. The Tigers began to increase their lead to as much as 16. The Bears came as close as eight with a little over a minute to play but would not get any closer, as Princeton held on for the victory.
The Bears tested the seventh-best defense in the nation. Sixty-seven points was the most the Tigers had allowed all season. Unfortunately for the Bears, their usually reliable three-point shooting was not up to par on this night: The team shot a miserable 2-of-17 from downtown.
“If we could have just shot the percentage that we normally do from the arc, we would have been able to cut it even closer in the final minute or so,” Alexander said.
Dietrick is the engine that makes Princeton’s offense tick. She ended with 15 points and five assists on 60 percent shooting. Overall, her team shot an impressive 54 percent. While the Tigers did turn the ball over 18 times, the Bears could only produce 10 points off those mistakes.
“They are a tough team … so I was really proud of how we did not back down at all,” Alexander said.
The Bears will end their season with a home doubleheader against Dartmouth (13-13, 4-8) and Harvard (12-14, 5-7) this weekend.