This past weekend, the women’s basketball team (11-13, 4-8 Ivy) played a pair of home games against strong Ivy League opponents. After a crushing 80-37 loss to Princeton (19-5, 10-2 Ivy) Friday night, the Bears got redemption with a 68-59 win over the University of Pennsylvania (16-9, 8-4 Ivy) Saturday.
“Any time you can play a team for a second time and show that you have grown a lot as a team is really exciting,” said Head Coach Monique LeBlanc, referencing a loss against Penn earlier in the season. “It validates the progress that they've made.”
While the team put up strong performances across the board against Penn, Alyssa Moreland ’26 and Grace Arnolie ’26 led the charge. Moreland had 14 points with three blocks, three steals and eight rebounds, and was effective on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Arnolie was the Bears’s main offensive weapon, scoring 20 points with six 3-pointers. This strong performance led to Arnolie’s selection as the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the third time this season.
“Honestly, it's just the way that our team plays together. Over the course of the season we've learned to (work) so well together that we get each other open shots,” Arnolie said. “Being able to get my shots and rhythm by great passes from my teammates is what allows me to sink them.”
Saturday’s game got off to a difficult start for the Bears: Penn went on a quick 10-3 run to take a large lead early in the first quarter. But Bruno was able to recover thanks to Arnolie’s shooting in the first-quarter, who shot 60% from behind the arc, scoring nine of the Bear's 14 points in the quarter.
Despite their early seven-point deficit, Brown was eventually able to tie the score at 14 apiece with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter. But the Quakers were able to break away and score in the period’s final minute, leaving the Bears down 16-14 entering the second quarter.
The Bears also struggled to grab rebounds early in the first quarter — nine of Penn’s 16 points were second-chance points off offensive rebounds.
Despite the close score entering the second quarter, the Bears quickly fell behind. Arnolie went quiet for the period and Bruno struggled to score as the Quakers shot effectively. Shooting 42.1% from the field and 62.5% from behind the arc, Penn was able to outscore the Bears 21-11 in the quarter after Bruno only shot 38.5% from the field and 25% from behind the arc. The Bears were able to limit second-chance points, but their shooting defense remained a weakness, as they were outshot in each of the first two periods.
While the Bears entered halftime down 37-25, they got off to a scorching start in the third quarter and carried the momentum for the rest of the game. In a strong third quarter, the Bears outscored the Quakers 26-14 and tied them on four occasions.
The first-year duo of Moreland and Arnolie powered the run, with Moreland scoring six and Arnolie adding nine points on three 3-pointers. Brown was also able to outscore Penn 6-4 on second-chance points and out-rebounded them 8-7.
“We've been working for a while about coming into the third quarter and (going) on a run,” Moreland said. After a halftime pep talk, our goal was to say, “‘now we're gonna play even better,’ and that's what we did today.”
The shooting defense also improved immensely, and Penn was unable to easily get shots off, shooting only 37.5% from the field and 33.3% from behind the arc.
Entering the fourth quarter with the game tied, the Bears had momentum on their side. Moreland shined in the period, notching eight points and five rebounds to seal the game for Brown. She also scored two clutch late-game breakaway baskets to secure four crucial points for the Bears.
The Bears’ defense during the final frame was crushing, allowing only 23.5% shooting from the field and no makes from behind the arc. The Bears outscored the Quakers 17-8 in the fourth quarter to secure a 68-59 victory.
“It means a lot,” said Arnolie. “We've been working so hard and we're just coming off a tough loss (the previous) night, and it was really just a great boost to our confidence (that) showed us how we've been improving and that when we really focus on the details and on working together … we can beat anyone.”
The Bears remain at home this Saturday with a game against Columbia at 4 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.
Dennis Carey is a sports senior staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. He previously contributed to the Arts and Culture section. In his spare time, he enjoys watching Atlanta sports and collecting vinyl records.