The women’s basketball team was back in action this week, starting off with a commanding 78-55 victory at Central Connecticut State University Thursday but following with a 89-79 loss to No. 20 University of California at Berkeley Sunday. Playing against the Blue Devils (0-3), the Bears (2-1) controlled the flow of the game from the start, limiting CCSU to just seven points scored in the first quarter.
Guard Justine Gaziano ’20 led her team with 22 points, five rebounds and two assists. Bruno struggled from three-point range, scoring on just five of 24 attempts, but was still more successful than the Blue Devils, who converted on four of 25 from three.
“We did well in transition. We had a really good first quarter,” said Head Coach Sarah Behn. Bruno added 12 points in fast break offense, while limiting its opponent to just four. Behn added that her team’s strong start was important, but they must work on playing consistently. “We probably played 22 to 24 good minutes of basketball. We have to get that up into the 30s.”
Although the Bears turned over the ball 17 times, they ultimately were able to find success in their rebounding, collecting 55 boards, compared to Central Connecticut’s 41. Forward Janie White ’18 was the leading rebounder for the Bears, gathering eight.
Guard Taylor Will ’19 was once again crucial to Brown’s success, contributing 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the victory.
The Bears looked to continue the hot start to their season Sunday against Cal. The Golden Bears (2-1) came into the matchup ranked 20th nationally. Behn noted that her team’s confidence was encouraging. “I’m proud of the kids because they weren’t intimidated. They followed the game plan … and they did everything I asked.”
Bruno’s game plan, described by Behn as “space out the floor, take a lot of threes and see if we can get some offensive boards,” was clear from the opening minutes of the game. The team took 41 three-point shots total and made 16 of them. Cal was just four of 16 from three. Guard Shayna Mehta ’19 was automatic from beyond the arc, going nine of 15 from three-point range. Her nine three-pointers set a single-game school record and her 33 points are a career high and the eighth most in a single game in Brown history.
Brown’s impressive efficiency on three-point shooting allowed them to stay in the game alongside their top-ranked opponent. Bruno trailed by just two points going into the half and kept the deficit small until the final minutes of the game.
Coach Behn expressed frustration with foul calls, noting that her team took and made just five free throws, while the Golden Bears made 17 free throws on 30 attempts. Bruno committed 22 fouls, while Cal only gave 10. “I feel like if those numbers were a little more similar, it would’ve been different,” Behn said. She added that she was forced to sit key players during crucial stretches of the game because they were in foul trouble over calls that Behn did not agree with.
The Bears were out-rebounded by their opponent 58 to 31, and were hard-pressed to protect the rim, allowing 46 points in the paint. “We didn’t have great options today because they’re hard to guard. We couldn’t stop the bleeding with the defensive rebounds. It was tough,” Behn said.
Cal shot well enough on its last few free throws to ultimately pull away from the Bears, but Behn sees the upside in this loss against formidable opposition. “I hope that we learn from this game and get better with rebounding, I hope that this helps us in Ivy play. Each game we’re growing and taking things that are positive and things that we can work on,” she said.
The team is back in action next week over the holiday break, traveling to Stockton, California, for the Thanksgiving Turkey Tip-Off Tournament. The Bears will face off against Hampton University Nov. 24 in their first game of the tournament.