The women’s basketball team (13-4, 1-3 Ivy) opened conference play against Yale (9-8, 2-2) Jan. 12, beginning a two-month stretch that has them facing off against every Ivy League team twice in hopes of qualifying for the Ivy League tournament. The Bears got off to a weak start, collecting one win and one loss versus the Bulldogs before dropping two straight to Dartmouth (10-7, 2-2) and Harvard (11-6, 3-1).
The first contest against Yale was a decisive defeat with a final score of 63-77 in favor of the Bulldogs. Bruno erased a six point halftime deficit, tying the game with just under seven minutes left, but failed to contain an offensive surge from Yale that would help them pull away and win. The Bulldogs finished with a 19-5 scoring run to finish the game, ultimately tallying 25 points in the fourth quarter.
Yale took advantage of Brown’s blunders, scoring 17 points off of its 18 turnovers, while the Bears scored just six points from Yale’s 10 turnovers.
Bruno relied heavily on its starters for scoring purposes, earning zero points from the bench. Forward Erika Steeves ’19 led the way for Brown, notching 18 points and 11 rebounds, while guards Justine Gaziano ’20 and Shayna Mehta ’19 added 13 and 12 points apiece.
“We have quite a few players that can put up points very quickly. Unlike many of the other Ivy teams, we play at a fast pace, and our 80.6 scoring average is top in the league,” Mehta said.
Seven days later, the team looked to avenge its defeat, taking on Yale at home. The Bears were successful, besting the Bulldogs 81-71 in an exciting overtime decision. Brown held the lead for nearly the entire game, but its defense faltered in the fourth quarter, giving up 25 points to Yale and allowing them to tie the game at 65 and send it into overtime.
The team’s rebounding prowess and a fast-paced offense worked to its advantage, allowing Bruno to collect 57 rebounds and tally 14 fast break points. Forward Janie White ’19 added 12 rebounds and 17 points, while Steeves grabbed 11 boards. White and Steeves have led their team in rebounding this season, averaging 7.5 and 8.8 rebounds per game, respectively.
Brown pulled away in overtime, outscoring the Bulldogs 15-5 to cinch the victory. Scoring off the bench made a difference in the contest this time, as the Bears tallied 24 points in the win. Gaziano led the team with 20 points.
The team looked to continue its winning ways, traveling to Dartmouth Jan. 26, but came up short 78-73. The close game was highlighted by Mehta’s 25-point scoring performance, which sent her to 12th place on the team’s all-time scoring list.
Once again, the Bears were hard-pressed to finish the game strong, giving up 45 to the Big Green in the second half and squandering a five-point halftime lead.
“We need to improve by playing a full 40 minutes of Brown basketball,” Mehta said.
Dartmouth had an efficient shooting night, converting on 30 of its 62 attempts. While both teams shot the same number of free throws, the Big Green was a perfect seven for seven from the line, while Bruno struggled, going just four for seven. This alone gave Dartmouth a three-point advantage in a game that was decided by just five points.
Gaziano was a reliable scorer once again, putting up 18 points. Steeves’ 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks highlighted her well-rounded game.
The team attempted to bounce back from its loss the next day, playing Harvard at home, but added another close defeat 87-85. There were 10 ties and eight lead changes throughout the game, which came down to the wire. Guard Dominique Leonidas ’21 scored a layup with just 34 seconds left to play to bring the Bears within one, but they were unable to close, missing a game-tying layup as the buzzer sounded.
“Our team needs to prioritize the next possession philosophy, both on offense and defense, by being grittier and by working harder for each possession than the other team,” Mehta said.
Bruno showed its shooting strength, making 33 of 62 field goal attempts. Guards Gaziano and Mehta put on a scoring display. Gaziano was particularly efficient, scoring a season high 28 points on nine of 13 shooting, with four three-pointers made on six attempts. Mehta added 25 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Ultimately, the Crimson was able to find the upper hand through rebounding and bench scoring. Harvard collected 40 rebounds versus Brown’s 31, and scored 24 points from the bench, while the Bears once again struggled off the bench with just nine points.
The team will continue Ivy play Friday, Feb. 2, hosting Penn at 6 p.m.