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Turnovers prove costly in women’s basketball defeat to Wagner College

Despite leading early, Bears’ fourth-quarter drought, possession problems lead to loss

<p>Guard Maddie Mullin ’23 drained two three-pointers in 30 seconds in the third quarter of the game, ending the game four for six from behind the three point line.</p>

Guard Maddie Mullin ’23 drained two three-pointers in 30 seconds in the third quarter of the game, ending the game four for six from behind the three point line.

The women’s basketball team (1-4) lost to Wagner College (2-1) 67-57 Saturday at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The loss capped a three-game week for the Bears in which they picked up their first win of the season at Bryant University Tuesday but lost to Central Connecticut State University Thursday.

Guard Kyla Jones ’24 led Brown with 14 points, and forward Mya Murray ’24 added 12 points to go along with five blocks. But as a team, the Bears committed 28 turnovers, off of which Wagner scored 22 points. Brown also struggled to defend Wagner forward Emilija Krista Grava, who frequently found shooting space in the middle of the Bears’ zone defense and finished the game with 26 points.

“It’s very difficult to win a college basketball game when you turn the ball over 28 times,” Head Coach Monique LeBlanc said. “That really hurt us.”

The Bears also committed 22 fouls, another area LeBlanc said her team has to improve in. “We need to be a much more disciplined team,” she said. “We gave Wagner too many opportunities at the free-throw line.”

The first quarter began with a series of frantic possessions, with a combined three turnovers in the first minute. A Murray basket got the scoring started, but the turnovers would continue for the Bears against the Seahawks’ aggressive zone defense. Still, eight points plus two blocks from Murray helped the Bears overcome nine first-quarter turnovers to establish an 18-15 lead.

A strong start to the second quarter that included five points from forward Amanda Latkany ’25 saw the Bears jump out to a 28-20 lead, but Brown was unable to score for the final 3:34 of the first half, allowing the Seahawks to narrow the deficit to two.

The Bears began the second half on the back foot, with the Seahawks launching a 7-0 run in the first two minutes. Things got worse for Brown when Murray was subbed out after picking up her fourth foul three minutes into the half. Shortly afterward, Wagner went on a 10-0 run that included four straight Brown possessions ending in turnovers and gave the Seahawks a 45-34 lead.

“Those are momentum plays, and they can make you feel like you’re just constantly back on defense,” LeBlanc said about the turnovers.

“I think we need to focus on having a stronger third quarter because that’s when we start to lose a lot of our games,” Jones said.

But the Bears responded at the end of the quarter with two three-pointers in a 30-second span from guard Maddie Mullin ’23, who finished the game four for six from the three-point line. The quarter ended with the Bears down 49-47.

Brown went cold again in the fourth quarter and did not score for the first five minutes, a drought that left the team behind 55-47. In the final few minutes, Brown launched an aggressive full court press that gave Wagner trouble, but the Bears couldn’t create enough offense to bridge the gap.

The loss was the Bears’ fourth of the season, but players who spoke to The Herald still felt confident the team can turn it around.

“A lot of people are starting to really get back into playing basketball again, and I think we’re still trying to figure out our style and our groove,” Jones said. “In a couple more games when we have that figured out, I think we’ll be a better team.”

“Our team chemistry is getting better and better every day,” Murray said, mentioning that it is the first season with a new coaching staff. LeBlanc was hired in April 2020, but the Bears’ 2020-21 season was canceled due to COVID-19.

“We want to stay really focused on building better habits, playing better basketball every day in practice,” LeBlanc said. “Hopefully the games will start to take care of themselves as we continue to improve.”

The Bears will try to bounce back Tuesday during a visit to the University of Hartford (0-4).

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