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Comeback knocks Bears out of WBI, ends season

Despite 14-point advantage over UNC-Greensboro, Bears fall 87-84 in season’s final contest

The quarterfinals of the Women’s Basketball Invitational sent Bruno down south to face The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Sunday.

After an impressive 14-point comeback by the Spartans (19-14, 7-7 Southern Conference), the Bears (17-13, 7-7 Ivy) fell 87-84, ending their 2017 season.

Shayna Mehta ’19 opened the scoring by backing down her defender across the key and kissing an underhand layup off the glass.

UNCG took an 8-4 lead, but Brown responded with a 10-0 run behind Mehta’s shooting. Still, the Spartans came back and narrowed the first quarter lead to 19-17. Mehta had a hot start with 10 points on 4-6 shooting in the opening stanza.

UNCG instituted a full court press, but Bruno cut through it with quick passing.

“They pressed us all game, so we were able to get many layups in the back,” Mehta said. “(Justine Gaziano ’20) was playing (shooting guard), so she stayed near their basket. So once we broke the press, she was wide open,” she added.

Mehta capped a strong first half by hitting a three and drawing a foul in the Bears’ last possession of the half. She made the free throw to push Bruno’s lead to 49-38 going into the locker room.

The Bears scored a season-high 30 points in the second quarter as Bruno shot 56 percent from the floor in the half.

While the Bears stretched the lead to 14 midway through the third quarter, the Spartans came back in the final five minutes, cutting the lead to 63-57 going into the final period.

UNCG held the momentum and would not let go. The Spartans tied the game at 67 on a three from Bailey Williams, who scored a game-high 27 points — including 15 of the Spartans’ 30 points in the final quarter.

Mehta said that the Spartans’ comeback was due in part to the fact that a few Bears were in foul trouble and the players therefore were cautious about fouling out. UNCG took advantage of Bruno’s tentativeness by driving hard to the hoop.

The contest was tied again at 75 with just over three minutes to play. But Williams scored seven points in the final three minutes, and the Spartans converted most of their attempts from the free-throw line.

Two three-pointers from Gaziano and Mehta in the final eight seconds brought the Bears within two, but it was not enough — the Bears fell 87-84.

Mehta ended the game with a team-high 24 points and six assists. Gaziano, Erika Steeves ’19 and Janie White ’18, added 16, 15 and 14, respectively.

“We probably should have won this game,” Mehta said. “We were up the whole game, and then just at the end we weren’t able to finish it off.”

“A lot of it’s because everyone is just so tired. We’ve been gone for so long,” she added.

The loss marks the end of a record-long 30-game season. The Bears scored a school record 2,169 points on the year. 

With every member returning next year, the Bears have reason to be optimistic about their future. For now, the team has a well-deserved break from the action.

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