In perhaps its most difficult road trip of the entire season, the women’s basketball team was tasked with facing the two toughest opponents in all of the Ivy League this weekend — Princeton and Penn. In preseason polls, the two teams were voted to claim the top two spots for a second straight year. The Bears would need to be sharp in order to best Princeton’s number-one ranked offense and Penn’s number-one ranked defense.
“These are physical teams and the top two (in the Ivy League), so we definitely knew they were going to be tough games,” said co-captain Jordin Alexander ’16.
In the first match against Princeton (13-4, 2-1 Ivy) Friday, the Tigers immediately staked their claim as Ivy favorites again by opening up the game on a blistering 13-0 run. Rebecca Musgrove ’17 stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer, jumpstarting a 9-2 run for the Bears (12-6, 0-4) that cut the deficit to six. By quarter’s end, the Tigers would double their lead to 12.
The second period was much of the same as Princeton looked to extend its lead. The Tigers had a response to everything, and Bruno would not get to within 10 for the rest of the game. The Bears went into halftime in a 20-point hole.
“We came out flat and definitely have some stuff to improve upon,” Alexander said.
The second half was a different story. The team ramped up its effort on both sides of the ball. The Bears outscored their feline opponent by a score of 34-33 in a much-improved performance. Musgrove paced the team with 16 points on 7-of-15 shooting, while also adding five rebounds and five steals. But it was too little too late, as Bruno fell 72-53.
Brown had no time to dwell upon its loss, as it faced Penn (14-3, 3-0) the next day. Unfortunately for the Bears, a slow start put them in yet another steep hole that they could not escape. For the third straight game, the team failed to reach the 20-point mark in the first half. In the end, Bruno lost its fourth straight game — this time by a score of 66-49.
Despite what the scoreboard read, the overall effort levels seemed better than they had in the previous night’s game.
“We showed more urgency against Penn,” Alexander said. “We were proud the team bounced back, and the score didn’t reflect our performance. We showed some bright spots.”
After being outrebounded by 12 or more in all of their Ivy games, the Bears managed to control the glass better in this game, registering a minus-four rebound margin.
Alexander led by example in this matchup, netting a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. She also chipped in eight rebounds and three steals. On the other hand, the Bears could not find an answer for Penn’s duo of Sydney Stipanovich and Michelle Nwokedi, who combined for nearly half of the Quakers’ points.
Penn’s top-ranked defense held Brown to a paltry four-point second quarter. For the second straight match-up, the Bears faced a 20-point deficit at halftime.
For the second consecutive game, Brown outscored its opponent in the second half — this time by a three-point margin — but still came up far short.
Next weekend, the Bears continue their search for their first conference victory on a road trip to Cornell and Columbia.