Heading into its weekend competition against Binghamton Sunday, the women’s basketball team was looking to end a three-game losing streak with a victory over the Bearcats (1-5). But as the halftime buzzer sounded, Brown (3-3) faced a four-point deficit, down 37-33.
Then point guard Shayna Mehta ’19 took over, scoring 19 points in the second half alone to carry the Bears’ offense in a convincing 83-72 victory. In total, Mehta netted a season-high and game-leading 29 points in the contest.
For her critical role in Brown’s success, as well as emerging leadership on the team, Mehta has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.
Herald: What was going through your mind before the game?
Mehta: I just wanted to win the game since we had just lost three in a row. I thought it would be a good, close game since we won on a buzzer beater last year. Binghamton is a very good team and has had a tough preseason schedule. They beat the defending Ivy League champions, Penn, earlier this season, and that alone was a good reason to get pumped up for the game.
How were you feeling as the game progressed and you began to heat up?
Throughout the game, our team had really good energy, and we all had positive vibes. We had two very good practices during the week before the game, so I think we were all ready to play. After a pretty hard-fought first half with many lead changes, the second half seemed to open up for us. In the third quarter, my teammates were able to give me good looks at the basket, and I started becoming more aggressive and felt comfortable and confident. (Head Coach Sarah Behn) started to call out plays for me, and I was able to knock down some shots.
You scored a season-high 29 points. Could you reflect on the performance?
It’s no stat compared to Erika Steeves’ ’19 18 rebounds and 18 points. I was pleased that I was able to bring home a “W.” But I feel Erika’s double-double and Taylor Will’s ’19 scoring and defense on Binghamton’s best player were the real key to our win. Our transition game really started to click in the second half, and we were able to go on a few runs that helped us pull away at the end. When we can run on teams, I think we are hard to beat. We have had a few games already (in which) we have scored over 80 points.
What is going well for the team so far, and what do you need to improve on the most?
The season is going well considering we are so young. The games we lost were all by very close margins, which makes me optimistic for the rest of the season. We are getting major contributions from many people on the team, and different people are stepping up and filling roles that we lost from last year. I think that we need to improve on playing games for the full 40 minutes. We often have really good halves, but we could improve on finishing the games out. If we improve on this, I think we will be a strong competitor in the Ivy League.
When did you start playing basketball, and what drew you to the sport?
I started playing basketball when I was about seven or eight years old. I fell in love with the game because it is just so much fun to play, and it is fast-paced and exciting. Also being from the Bay Area, watching the (Golden State) Warriors growing up helped spark my passion for the sport.
What are some expectations that you have for the team?
A short-term expectation and goal is to win the Ocean State Tip-off Tournament this weekend hosted at Brown University. We play URI on Saturday, and then the winner — or loser — of the Bryant vs. PC game on Sunday. A season-ending goal is to make it into the Ivy League tournament and of course win.
There are no seniors currently on the roster. Who do you look toward for leadership?
Our junior Megan Reilly ’18 is our team captain, and she really has embraced the role and been a great leader for us this season. She sets a great example for us both on and off the court, and she is just a real fun person to be around.