PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Sophomore forward Erika Steeves recorded a double-double on 18 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore guard Shayna Mehta scored a team-high 19 points, but Brown University women's basketball fell to the University of Pennsylvania at The Palestra in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament semifinals on Saturday.
The No. 4 seed Bears (16-12) took a 40-35 lead with 6:35 left in the third quarter before the host and No. 1 seed Quakers (21-7) – playing on their home court – scored 14 straight points as part of a 21-4 run to gain a 56-44 lead at the end of the third quarter.
"Penn is a very well coached team, and they are hard to defend," Brown head coach Sarah Behn said. "With that being said, I'm really proud of our girls for their resilience and for the fact that we did hang with them in the rebounding category. We played well, and the kids did what I asked and followed the game plan."
Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) posted her sixth double-double of the season and shot 8-of-17 from the floor. She scored in double-figures for the 17th time this season.
Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) – a Second Team All-Ivy selection – hit 5-of-11 shots from 3-point distance and added five rebounds as part of her 24th double-figure scoring effort of the year.
Freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) – Brown's other Second Team All-Ivy pick – tallied 10 points for her 19th contest in double figures in 22 games played.
Sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) chipped in seven points and four boards, and junior forward Janie White (Clarksville, Tenn.) totaled seven rebounds, four assists, three points, and three steals. With two blocks White increased her career total to 121 blocks, tying for fourth place on Brown's career list with Holly Robertson '05.
"It's been great for our team. We didn't lose the game for lack of effort," Steeves said. "The fact that we got here speaks to our growth and maturity. Just being here, we learned a lot. Next year we will be ready to come back and hopefully get a win."
For Penn – winners of each of the last two and three of the last four Ivy regular season titles – Michelle Nwokedi, the Ivy League Player of the Year, totaled a double-double on 25 points and 10 rebounds alongside seven blocks. Beth Brzozowski scored 16 points, Anna Ross posted 12 points, and six assists, and Sydney Stipanovich grabbed 13 rebounds.
Brown – the Ivy League's top-scoring offense – set a program record for points in a single season, improving its season total to 2,004 points. The Bears' 1993-94 team held the previous record with 1,971 points. Brown played in its fourth-ever postseason game.
After Penn pulled ahead 13-6 to open the game, White hit a wing 3-pointer and Steeves converted off a feed from White to pull within 13-9 at the 2:31 mark of the first quarter. The Quakers opened the second quarter with an 18-11 lead and finished off an 11-0 run to pull ahead 24-11 with 8:34 to go in the second stanza.
The Bears responded with a 15-4 run to cut their deficit to 28-26 with 3:29 left in the half. Mehta (two), Steeves, and junior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) all sank 3-pointers during the run, and Will converted a 3-point play.
Steeves and Mehta both knocked down 3-pointers in the final 1:20 of the half to bring Brown within 33-32 of Penn at the break. The Bears hit 6-of-8 shots from 3-point distance in the second quarter.
Brown scored the first six points of the third quarter to pull ahead 38-33 after back-to-back buckets from Gaziano. The visitors remained ahead 40-35 after a hook shot from Steeves at the 6:35 mark, but Penn netted 14 straight points in a 2:24 span to pull ahead 49-40 with 3:55 left in the third. The Quakers closed the quarter on a 21-4 run to take a 56-44 edge into the fourth quarter.
A wing 3-pointer from Mehta trimmed the deficit to 56-47 early in the fourth, and a put-back from Steeves made it 62-53 with 3:49 remaining, but the Bears could pull no closer than nine points down the stretch.
The Quakers beat the Bears three times this season and have defeated Brown 12 straight times. Penn will play in the championship game tomorrow, Sunday, Mar. 12 at 4:00 p.m. (ESPNU) against No. 2 Princeton or No. 3 Harvard.
Video of all Brown women's basketball home contests and all Ivy League games, home and away, will be broadcast live on ILDN.TV/BROWN.
Tickets for all Brown women's basketball games can be purchased online, by calling the Brown Athletics Ticket Office at (401) 863-2773, or by walking up to the box office located in the Pizzitola Sports Center, open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.