The women’s basketball team (6-16, 1-9 Ivy) fell to Cornell (8-12, 3-6) by a score of 68-61 in Saturday afternoon’s game at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The Bears made a second-half run to stay in the game but could not complete the comeback.
Although Brown lost its first eight games of conference play, it came into the match against Cornell riding high off its first Ivy League win of the season against Dartmouth (2-20, 1-9) last Tuesday.
Cornell took an early 6-0 lead as the Bears missed their first four shots of the game. After a layup by guard Kyla Jones ’24, back-to-back baskets by the Big Red gave Cornell an eight-point advantage.
“Something we talked about in the locker room was needing to come out and play really strong from the beginning,” said guard Isabella Mauricio ’25.
Coming out of a time-out, Mauricio made a three-point shot, but Brown could not convert after forcing a turnover and a missed shot. Cornell grabbed an offensive rebound leading to a three-pointer right as the shot clock expired. Cornell’s rebounding advantage, especially on the offensive end, hurt the Bears throughout the game — Cornell out-rebounded Brown 45-27 overall and 19-5 on the offensive boards.
“The biggest thing that really held us back at the end was rebounding,” said Head Coach Monique LeBlanc. “That's been our Achilles’ heel all year.”
Guard Maddie Mullin ’23 responded to Cornell’s buzzer beater with her own three-point shot. After a layup from Cornell, Mullin came back with another three to cut Brown’s deficit to four, but the Big Red answered with a three-pointer. Neither team could score in the quarter’s final two minutes, leaving Cornell with an 18-11 lead at the end of the first period.
The Bears and the Big Red traded two-point baskets to start the second quarter. After Mullin hit another three-point shot, Brown failed to score for three minutes. Mullin made yet another three-pointer, but the Bears did not score for the remaining five and a half minutes in the half. Cornell finished the quarter on a 9-0 run to take a 31-19 halftime lead.
Although the Bears turned it over below their average rate in the first half, the Big Red converted Brown’s eight turnovers into 15 points. LeBlanc said the Bears “had a little bit of a tough time getting (their) rhythm back” after Cornell switched from zone to man-to-man defense in the second quarter.
Mullin’s three-point shooting proved the only consistent source of offense in the first half, with 12 of Brown’s 19 first-half points coming from her deep shooting. Mullin finished the game as the Bears’ second-highest scorer after putting up 15 points and converting 50% of her shots from beyond the arc.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me,” Mullin said. “I knew that the other team was going to play a lot of zone, so I knew to come out ready and take my time with my shot.”
Cornell made a three-pointer following an offensive rebound at the beginning of the third quarter to take a 15-point lead. Jones drove inside for a layup, but the Big Red made good passes to respond with their own two-point shot. Guard Grace Kirk ’24 drew a foul to shoot Brown’s first free throws of the game. After the Bears’ defense forced a shot clock violation, forward Mya Murray ’24 drew another foul, splitting the pair of free throws.
Cornell went on a brief 3-0 run, but Mauricio kicked off the Brown comeback when she sank a contested three-pointer. On the next trip down the floor, Mauricio dropped her defender and nailed a midrange jumper. Following a timeout, Mauricio made a quick three-point shot, and forward Ashley Ducharme ’22 hit two free throws to bring the Bears within single digits. Mauricio stole the ball on the defensive end and converted a fast break layup. After a Cornell turnover, she kept up her momentum with another three-pointer to bring Brown within three points of the Big Red. After Cornell answered with a three-pointer and a layup, Mauricio knocked down her fourth three-pointer of the quarter.
The Bears were down 46-41 at the end of the third quarter, with Mauricio scoring 16 of the team’s 22 points and bringing Brown back into the game. Mauricio led the team with 25 points in the game, her career high. Brown went seven of 13 from the field and four of five from deep, resulting in an efficient third quarter.
“I just hate losing,” Mauricio said. “People made some great passes and great plays, and (shots) just went in.”
Early in the fourth, the Big Red made a long two-point shot, but Mullin hit her fifth three-pointer of the game to cut the Bears’ deficit to four. Four straight points by Jones tied the game at 48 with under seven minutes left. Jones made a free throw and layup to cap off her seventh unanswered point, but subsequent Brown turnovers and fouls allowed Cornell to go on a 6-0 run. Jones was able to cut the run with a successful free throw, but a Cornell three-pointer gave the Big Red a five point lead.
“It’s great to see our team patiently chip away at a lead, as opposed to crumbling after halftime,” LeBlanc said. “But it's hard to constantly play so hard from behind like we did.”
Brown and Cornell went back and forth for a few possessions, but the Bears could not take advantage of good looks to reclaim a lead. The Big Red missed two free throws during a trip to the line, but again grabbed the offensive rebound to score two points and take a six-point lead with just over a minute left. Both teams traded free throw attempts, but Brown was down seven points with 30 seconds remaining. A missed shot forced the Bears to foul again, and Cornell sank both free throws to hold off a Brown comeback as the Bears lost 68-61.
“The team (has) really bought into the idea of focusing on our improvement and our growth,” LeBlanc said. “I think that everybody's on the same page with wanting to just play great basketball down the stretch.”
With less than two weeks left in the season, Brown will continue conference play with a game at Princeton (17-4, 9-0) Feb. 18.