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First half surge propels women's basketball over Friars

Clutch play of Mehta ’19, Alexander ’16 buoys Bruno in late stages of win over Providence

The women’s basketball team continued its strong start Tuesday, defeating Providence College 57-47 for its second win of the season.

In their home opener, the Bears (3-0) started off somewhat sluggish. At the end of the first quarter, Providence, which defeated Brown for one of its six wins last year, led 14-12. But the Bears’ defense came alive in the second quarter. After Providence’s Aliyah Miller scored to put her team ahead 18-14 with 7:36 remaining in the half, the Bears outscored the Friars 10-1 for the rest of the quarter, finishing the first half with a 24-19 lead.

“As a team, we got together between the first and second quarter, and we knew that we could take them,” said Erika Steeves ’19. “We were just waiting for something to click, something to happen. In the second quarter, we put people on the court that started to get into the flow of the game, and it all worked out for us.”

“We decided that we were going to lock it down on defense,” said Ellise Sharpe ’16. “We held them to five points in the second quarter, and that gave us the momentum going into halftime.”

The Bears pulled away after their dominant second quarter, stretching their lead to as many as 13 points. They led by nine after the third, and though Providence cut the deficit to four with less than four minutes remaining in the game, Shayna Mehta ’19 immediately put the Bears back in control with a three, and Steeves extended the lead with a jump shot of her own.

Co-captain Jordin Alexander ’16 proved a key contributor as well, recording assists on both shots and adding a layup of her own to push the lead to 11. Alexander finished with 15 points and five assists.

When the Friars got close, the team did not panic, Sharpe said. “I wouldn’t say we were worried, but it was like, ‘Okay, now we’ve got to really put it away,’” she said.

“It did obviously get a little stressful, but all along, in my mind, I was saying, ‘I know we can win this,’” Steeves said. “Everyone on the court felt the same way. Everyone on the sideline felt that too. We just had to keep it together, and we did, and we ended up coming out on top.”

Mehta and Steeves emerged as the Bears’ two young stars. Mehta, who led the Bears with 17 points in the opener versus Bethune-Cookman, scored 11 more against Providence. Steeves, who came within one point of a double-double in the opener, was even better against Providence, scoring 14 points and adding 12 rebounds.

“I’ve always been pretty active with rebounds and points in the paint,” Steeves said. “I knew that my role coming in would be coming off the bench, getting as many boards as I could. Our coach always told me, ‘If you’re getting rebounds, you’ll stay in.’ That’s been one of my objectives, and it’s been working out for me so far.”

Mehta and Steeves “did really well in preseason,” Sharpe said. “It’s great to see them not getting nervous in games and just playing basketball.”

Bruno will now continue its four-game home stand, taking on Morgan State and Vermont all by next Tuesday, before traveling to Manhattan College the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. Last season, the Bears defeated both Morgan State and Vermont.

“We played (Morgan State) last year, and we beat them by a small margin,” Steeves said. “Hopefully we can do the same this year but win by a little more.”

“They’re all very close together, but we have a good shot in all of them,” Sharpe said. “If we continue to do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to be 5-0 after Monday.”

With a 3-0 record following Thursday night’s 114-28 drubbing of Mount Ida, the Bears are already in position for a successful season: Last year, only two Ivy League teams played better than .500 overall. With their strong start, the Bears are one of only three unbeaten Ivies. Though Ivy play does not begin until January, the Bears are already anticipating the challenge.

“We’re thinking about the Ivies,” Steeves said. “We’re thinking about winning as many as we can — hopefully all of them.”

“We’re not as focused on any one team yet,” Steeves added. “We know that every single game’s going to be a challenge, because everyone’s catching up to each other — the bottom is meeting the top. It’s going to be a battle.”

“You never know what’s going to happen on any given Ivy night. Anything can happen,” Sharpe said. “We want to prove to them that we’re not seventh.” The Bears were voted to finish seventh in the conference in the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll.

Twelve games remain before Ivy League competition begins, and the season, which comprises 29 games, has barely begun. But with three wins to start the year, the Bears have their sights set on a successful season.


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