The women’s basketball team wasted no time getting off to a winning start to its 2017-18 season with a decisive home victory Sunday over Bryant University. The Bears (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) led the Bulldogs (0-1) by six points at the half, and offensive surges in the fourth quarter saw the lead swell as the game ended 85-62.
The contest was fast-paced, as defensive pressure by the Bears often led to fast breaks that left the Bulldogs scrambling to get back on defense. Twenty-five of Bruno’s points came from converting on these opportunities.
“The kids are just responding well to what we’re asking of them,” said Head Coach Sarah Behn of her team’s effective fast break strategy. Behn also praised her coaching staff’s scouting report for preparing the team well to defend the Bulldogs.
Free throw shooting significantly impacted Bruno’s playing. Brown was successful at not only attacking the basket and drawing fouls but also making free throws. The Bears were 18 of 22 from the line, while the Bulldogs shot poorly on their free throws, converting on just 8 of 15.
“I think our free throw percentage this year is going to shoot way up,” said forward Janie White ’18. “Last year we struggled with that a little bit here and there, but we’re getting way more consistent in practice and we’re shooting them way more often. We definitely try to get to the basket a lot especially if our three pointers aren’t falling and our shots weren’t falling as much in the first half today.”
Taking a majority of the free throws for the Bears was guard Justine Gaziano ’20. Gaziano was quick off the dribble and cut to the basket productively, often drawing shooting fouls that forced her to the line. Gaziano was an impressive 10 of 11 from the charity stripe, finishing the game with 23 points.
The Bears’ first three-pointer, which fell in the early minutes of the second quarter, came from starting forward Erika Steeves ’19. Though both teams shot poorly early on, the Bears were able to maintain an edge with offensive rebounding. “I’m pleased we did well on the offensive glass, because that covered up some of our poorer shooting earlier in the game,” Behn said. White was the game’s leading rebounder, collecting 11 boards.
The team’s early shooting woes were reconciled with an electric fourth quarter, highlighted by guard Shayna Mehta’s ’19 performance from beyond the arc. Mehta was 4 for 8 on three point shooting, hitting three in a row in the fourth quarter. Mehta finished with 16 points and 5 rebounds.
“We have several kids that can stroke it, so eventually we started to find our rhythm a little bit more,” Behn said. Guard Taylor Will ’19 also had an impressive stat line, scoring 17 points on an efficient 6 of 9 shooting, including one three-pointer. Will also tacked on a notable 7 rebounds.
Moving forward, White hopes the team can improve upon its defense. “We have to talk more and just be more aware in general of the whole floor. That’s something we’ve been working on and emphasizing,” White said. She later added that the team’s offensive threat is stong but hopes that it can round out both ends of the floor with improvements on defense.
Behn also hopes to improve on turnovers. “Their pressure bothered us more than it should have,” Behn said. The team had just 15 turnovers compared to the Bulldogs’ 26, but “it felt like more,” Behn said. “We will work on our composure and our decision making and squeezing the ball and not making careless mistakes.”
The team will continue with its 2017-18 campaign Nov. 16, facing off against Central Connecticut State.