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Bears fall twice to visitors, sit just outside fourth place

Bruno on four-game skid heading into final weekend matchups with Cornell, Columbia

The women’s basketball team was back in action this weekend for its final home double-header of the regular season. Bruno (14-11, 5-7 Ivy) faced off against Dartmouth and Harvard — foes it had faced just two weeks earlier in consecutive away games.

Both games came down to the wire. Friday’s game against Dartmouth (7-18, 2-10) went into overtime, and Saturday’s contest with Harvard (20-5, 8-4) was decided by only three points.

But Brown found itself on the losing side of each game. The two losses round out its four-game winless home stand with just one more weekend of regular season play left.

Dartmouth came to Providence sitting in last place in the Ivy league with only one conference win to its name. While the Big Green was out of contention for a postseason bid, it played with passion.

The Bears started out with seven unanswered points, but Dartmouth rallied and took a 20-17 lead after the first quarter.

Early on, the Bears swung the ball around the three-point line until spotting up for an open three or finding a teammate in the low post to lay it in.

On the other end, Dartmouth was efficient, shooting 33-61. Bruno, on the other hand, made just one more shot on 17 more attempts.

“Coach Behn says that we always, always have the green light, and she continues to tell us to keep shooting,” said captain Megan Reilly ’18.

The game was close throughout. Midway through the second quarter, Taylor Will ’19 picked the opposing point guard’s pocket and drove down the floor for a lay in. On the next possession, Mary Butler ’19 hit a transition jumper to knot the game at 30.

Then, Dartmouth started draining shots as Bruno’s offensive rim  became unforgiving — every shot seemed to be halfway down the cylinder before bouncing out. This continued until Shayna Mehta ’19 rattled home a deep trey to awaken Bruno from its jump shot slumber.

Bruno shot 6-19 from beyond the arc in the first half. Meanwhile, Dartmouth nailed just one fewer three on 10 fewer shots to secure a 40-36 lead at the halftime break.

The game stayed close in the third quarter as both teams tallied 23 points in the stanza. The lead would change hands 16 times over the course of the night.

With 37 seconds to play, Brown was down 76-72. An inadvertent whistle by the referee stopped a Brown fast break after an Erika Steeves ’19 steal, but, on the ensuing possession, Mehta nailed a three to cut the deficit to one.

Bruno fouled Dartmouth three times, sending Andi Norman to the line with 24.1 seconds to play. She hit her first attempt but missed the second off the back iron.

Justine Gaziano ’20 hit a layup to tie the game at 77 with 12.1 seconds left in regulation, and then back-to-back blocks by Steeves and Butler sent the game into overtime.

Eventually, Dartmouth had the ball up two with 30.3 to play in overtime. The Bears tried to get possession back by fouling, but Dartmouth shot well from the line to seal the 92-88 victory.

Mehta said the team was “devastated” after the game. “That was a game we should’ve won, and we just didn’t pull through,” she said.

Mehta said that the weekend’s losses felt worse than the previous weekend’s 0-2 result. These were games that they should have won but were unable to finish, while the losses to Penn and Princeton were encouraging because they showed that the team could hang with anybody, she added.

Mehta led the way for the Bears on the night, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds. Each of Brown’s starting five scored double-digit points. Steeves, Gaziano, Will and Butler added 19, 17, 15 and 10, respectively.

There were postseason implications on the line when Brown hosted Harvard Saturday.

The game was tight. Butler blocked a shot as the clock ran out to keep the score at 17-15 after the first 10 minutes. But Harvard started out the second stanza with an 11-2 run, prompting Behn to take a timeout.

Brown’s adjustments proved successful, and defensive effort by the Bears brought the game within one until Harvard nailed a three-pointer with six seconds left in the half to stretch the Crimson lead to four, 33-29.

Brown trailed for most of the third quarter until Reilly zipped a baseball pass to Mehta, who created separation with a pump fake and hit a short range jumper to lock the game at 41 with just over two minutes to play.

Harvard dominated the offensive glass all night but often missed its second chances, which kept the game close.

In the fourth, Mehta once again tied the game, this time with back-to-back threes, but the Crimson answered to take a two-point lead into the game’s final 40 seconds. Again, Bruno’s foes were effective from the line, and Harvard was able to close out a 66-63 victory.

Steeves led the Bears with 21 points in the loss. Mehta and Gaziano tallied 16 and 14, respectively. Steeves was prolific during the four-game home stand, averaging 19 points and seven rebounds per contest.

The two losses move the Bears to fifth place in the Ivy League. In order to punch its ticket to the Palestra for the Ivy League Tournament, Bruno has to win next weekend’s games on the road against Columbia (13-12, 3-9) and Cornell (15-10, 6-6).

“We are trying not to think too far ahead,” Reilly said. “We need to focus on each game one at a time, one half at a time, one quarter at a time, one possession at a time.”

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