Last Monday, just two days after the women’s basketball team thought its season was ended by Penn in the Ivy League Tournament, the Bears (17-12, 7-7 Ivy) were selected to take part in the annual Women’s Basketball Invitational. The 16-team tournament marks Brown’s second appearance in a national postseason tournament in program history. Bruno opened tournament play against the University of Maryland at Baltimore County (15-15, 10-6 America East) in Baltimore and earned a spot in the second round with an 81-75 win after several unsuccessful comeback bids by the Retrievers.
Though Brown only had two days of practice before having to square off against the unfamiliar foes, it took an early lead in the contest. A steal and precision pass by Megan Reilly ’18 to Justine Gaziano ’20 for a layup stretched the lead to 24-17 — where the first quarter ended.
Brown held onto the lead throughout the half with superior shooting. The Bears shot 57.1 percent from the field, including 9-19 from three after one half.
Bruno went into halftime leading 43-32.
Erika Steeves ’19 led the way with 11 points at the half, and Gaziano was close behind with 10.
“We knew that we were playing well on offense — we were shooting the ball pretty well, but we weren’t playing our best defense,” Reilly said.
As a result of Brown’s defensive lapses, the Retrievers closed the gap in the second half.
The end of the third quarter was scrappy, with players sliding across the floor or jumping into the stands to save a loose ball. As a result, the Bears spilled a considerable number of turnovers.
UMBC narrowed the advantage to eight going into the final quarter and cut the lead to 60-58 by scoring on three straight possessions to start the fourth stanza.
While Brown grabbed a double-digit advantage again on a three from Shayna Mehta ’19 , the Retrievers continued to come back, knotting the game at 75 with 1:31 to play.
But Mehta splashed yet another three-pointer to give Brown a lead that it never relinquished. A few trips to the free-throw line slightly inflated Brown’s advantage, and the Bears snuck away with the 81-75 win.
“It got a little too close for comfort there at the end, but Shayna hit a huge three, and … we’re just happy we pulled out the win,” Reilly said.
Brown shot 50 percent from the field as a team and tied a school record with 15 threes. Mehta recorded a double-double with 22 points — fifteen of which came from beyond the arc — and 10 rebounds. Steeves and Gaziano added 22 and 15 points of their own.
The Bears will catch a flight to North Carolina Friday to face the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in the second round Sunday. The Spartans defeated CSU 45-37 Thursday.