PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University women's basketball returns to the Pizzitola Sports Center to host Sacred Heart University on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (ILN) coming off its second straight Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament title.
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Game Notes: Brown vs. Sacred Heart
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PROFESSOR APPRECIATION NIGHT
As part of Brown's game with Sacred Heart, the Bears will honor their educators through Professor Appreciation Night. Brown will recognize a number of its professors prior to the game in fields ranging from neuroscience to history to Arabic.
BACK-TO-BACK OCEAN STATE TIP-OFF CHAMPIONSHIPS
Brown won its second straight Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament title on Dec. 3 as the Bears defeated host Providence College in the semifinals (Dec. 2), 64-59 and topped Bryant University, 72-60, in the championship game (Dec. 3). Sophomore guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) earned Tournament MVP honors while junior guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) gained All-Tournament Team accolades. The Bears won the inaugural event in 2016 behind victories over Rhode Island in the semifinals and Providence in the championship game.
GAZIANO GARNERS IVY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Sophomore guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) garnered Ivy League Player of the Week honors on Dec. 4 after leading the Bears to their second straight Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament title. Gaziano scored 20.7 points per game on the week, helping Brown go 3-0 and win back-to-back Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament titles. She earned Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament MVP honors, leading all scorers at the tournament with 23.0 points per game. She netted a game-high 26 points vs. Bryant (Dec. 3), notched a game-high 20 points at Providence (Dec. 2), and added 16 points vs. Holy Cross (Nov. 29).
TAKING THE TURKEY TIP-OFF TITLE
Brown traveled to the state of California over the Thanksgiving break and won the Turkey Tip-Off title at the University of the Pacific. The Bears opened the tournament with a 73-66 win over Hampton in the semifinals on Nov. 24 prior to topping the host Tigers, 74-57, in the championship game on Nov. 25. Junior guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) paced the Bears with 19.0 points per game in the tournament, including 23 points in the title game, while junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) posted a pair of double-doubles, averaging 13.0 points and 16.5 rebounds per game.
STEEVES SNAGS IVY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) gained Ivy League Player of the Week honors on Nov. 27 after posting a pair of double-doubles and helping lead the Bears to the Turkey Tip-Off title at Pacific. Steeves averaged 13.0 points and 16.5 rebounds per game as Brown beat Hampton and Pacific. She totaled 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds vs. Hampton (Nov. 24) and followed that with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists vs. Pacific (Nov. 25).
BEARS SIGN ELLIE LEO THROUGH TEAM IMPACT
Brown officially signed Ellie Leo, a 12-year-old, seventh grade student from Norton, Mass., to its roster through a Team IMPACT Cystic Fibrosis Project "Draft Day" Sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals on Nov. 30. As part of a ceremony in the Pizzitola Sports Center's Joukowsky Room, Ellie – a high honors student who loves gymnastics, basketball, and art – signed an official Letter of Intent before her family and friends and received an authentic team jersey from the Bears.
MEHTA ON THE MARK
Junior guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) scored a career-high 33 points and set a single-game program record with nine made 3-pointers in the Bears' game against No. 20 California on Nov. 19. Mehta hit 9-of-15 shots from 3-point distance and earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors on Nov. 20. She came within one 3-pointer of tying the Ivy League record for made 3-pointers in a single game and posted her second career game with 30 or more points.
HISTORY MADE BEYOND THE ARC
Against No. 20 California on Nov. 19, Brown set single-game program records for 3-pointers made (16) and 3-pointers attempted (41), shooting 39.0 percent from distance in the contest. In the first quarter alone, the Bears connected on 7-of-17 shots (41.2 percent) from behind the arc.
ON THE FAST BREAK
As a team, Brown leads the Ivy League in points per game (75.9) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.03). The Bears rank second in the Ancient Eight in 3-point field goals made per game (7.9), free throw percentage (.763) rebounds per game (40.9), and assists per game (14.50). The Bears have scored at least 70 points in seven of their first eight games and have eclipsed 80 points twice. Brown holds three of the Ivy League's top six scorers as junior guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.), sophomore guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.), and junior guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) have averaged 18.8, 17.9, and 16.5 points per game respectively.
GAZIANO THE GO-TO
Sophomore guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) ranks second in the Ivy League with 18.8 points per game and in free throw percentage (87.9). She earned Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament MVP honors after leading all scorers at the tournament with 23.0 points per game. She poured in a game-high 26 points vs. Bryant (Dec. 3) in the championship game and dropped a game-high 20 points at Providence (Dec. 2) in the semifinals. Gaziano netted 21 points vs. Hampton (Nov. 24), making 10-of-10 free throws to tie for the third most free throws made in a game without a miss in program history. She notched 23 points and made a career-high 10-of-11 free throws in the season opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12), following that with 22 points on 9-of-17 shooting at CCSU (Nov. 16). She scored 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting vs. No. 20 California (Nov. 19) and netted 16 points vs. Holy Cross (Nov. 29). She emerged as a potent scorer last season as a rookie, earning Second Team All-Ivy honors and ranking second in the Ivy League with 16.5 points per game. A season ago, Gaziano scored in double figures in each of 21 games, netted 20 or more points six times, and eclipsed 30 points twice.
Junior guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) ranks third in the Ivy League with 17.9 points per game, stands second with 3.0 made 3-pointers per game, and ranks third with 2.9 steals per game. Mehta netted a career-high 33 points and set a single-game program record with nine made 3-pointers vs. No. 20 California (Nov. 19). She came within one triple of tying the Ivy League record for 3-pointers in a game. Mehta netted 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting and 4-of-9 shots from 3-point distance along with a career-high seven steals vs. Holy Cross (Nov. 29). At the Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament, she totaled 13 points, eight rebounds, and a career-high seven steals vs. Bryant (Dec. 3) in the championship game and posted 14 points – all in the second half – in the semifinals vs. Providence (Dec. 2). Playing in her home state for the first time as a collegiate player at the Turkey Tip-Off, she netted 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting vs. Pacific (Nov. 25). She scored 16 points – with 11 in the fourth quarter – and hit 4-of-8 shots from 3-point distance in the opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12) and came back with 13 points and five rebounds at CCSU (Nov. 16). Entering the Sacred Heart game, she has 953 career points and 148 career made 3-pointers – ranking fourth all-time at Brown. In her career, she has scored in double figures 50 times and netted 20 or more points 15 times. She has enjoyed back-to-back successful seasons to open her collegiate career, gaining Second Team All-Ivy and Ivy League All-Tournament Team honors in 2016-17 after winning Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 2015-16.
Junior guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) ranks sixth in the Ivy League with 16.5 points per game, fifth in assists per game (3.5), fifth in steals per game (2.4), and sixth in free throw percentage (81.8). Will poured in a season-high 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the Turkey Tip-Off title game at Pacific (Nov. 25) after posting 15 points and nine rebounds in the semifinals vs. Hampton (Nov. 24). She earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team at the Ocean State Tip-Off, compiling 12 points, eight boards, and six assists vs. Providence (Dec. 2) in the semifinals before posting 16 points and five steals vs. Bryant (Dec. 3) in the championship game. She tallied her first collegiate double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds vs. Holy Cross (Nov. 29). She totaled 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds and four assists at CCSU (Nov. 16) and compiled 16 points, five boards, and four assists vs. No. 20 California (Nov. 19). WIll registered 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting with seven boards and five assists in the opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12). She took a major step forward in her development last season pushing her scoring from 1.7 points per game as a freshman to 12.3 points per game as a sophomore – an increase of 10.6 points per game. Last winter, she earned Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament MVP honors and gained Ivy League Player of the Week accolades on Dec. 5.
STEEVES ANCHORS FRONTCOURT
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) ranks second in the Ivy League in rebounds per game (8.8) and in defensive rebounds per game (7.4), while pacing the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3). Steeves posted a pair of double-doubles at the Turkey Tip-Off, totaling 16 points and a career-high 19 rebounds vs. Hampton before compiling 10 points and 14 rebounds at Pacific (Nov. 25). She helped the Bears win the Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament with 12 points at Providence (Dec. 2) in the semifinals. She dished out a career-high seven assists vs. No. 20 California (Nov. 19). Steeves totaled eight points, nine rebounds, and four assists in the opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12) and came up with seven boards and five assists at CCSU (Nov. 16). She returns as one of the Bears' most experienced frontcourt players after earning a spot on the Ivy League All-Tournament Team last winter. She ranked eighth in the Ivy League in points per game (12.9), fourth in rebounds per game (8.4), and first in defensive rebounds per game (7.1) in 2016-17.
WHITE WITH THE BLOCK
Senior forward Janie White (Clarksville, Tenn.) ranks third in the Ivy League with 2.5 blocks per game and has posted 6.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. She totaled 12 points, six boards, and four blocks vs. Holy Cross (Nov. 29). White tallied 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting at Pacific (Nov. 25) to help Brown win the Turkey Tip-Off. She helped Brown win the Ocean State Tip-Off with nine boards and four blocks vs. Providence (Dec. 2) in the semifinals. She corralled a game-high 11 rebounds with four blocks in the opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12) and compiled nine points, eight boards, and four blocks at CCSU (Nov. 16). She has 145 career blocks, ranking fourth all-time at Brown. After studying abroad in Switzerland during the fall 2016 semester, she returned to the team last spring, playing in 14 games and leading the Bears with 1.7 blocks per game. White played a pivotal role in the team's run to the Ivy League Tournament, scoring a career-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting with four steals at Columbia on Mar. 3.
BREAD AND BUTLER
Junior forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) has averaged 2.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 12.6 minutes per game this season. She posted six points and a season-high seven rebounds in an 82-78 win over Holy Cross (Nov. 29), scoring the go-ahead basket with 59 seconds left. She adds to Brown's experience in the frontcourt after playing in all 30 games last winter – one of four Bears to appear in every game last season. She earned Ocean State Tip-Off All-Tournament Team honors and made 23 starts a year ago, including 12 of the last 13 games of the season. Last year, Butler averaged 23.4 minutes, 4.3 points, and 4.4 rebounds per game.
REILLY A TWO-YEAR CAPTAIN
Senior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) will act as a captain for the Bears for the second straight season and serves as Brown's most veteran player, having played in 92 career games entering the Sacred Heart game. She played in all 30 games last year with 11 starts and ranked second in the Ivy League in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.2). Reilly averaged 18.2 minutes, 3.1 points, 2.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game last season.
Freshman guard Dominique Leonidas (Stone Mountain, Ga.) has averaged 14.3 minutes, 2.6 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game for the season. At the Ocean State Tip-Off, Leonidas posted a season-high seven points and four rebounds vs. Bryant (Dec. 3) in the championship game and came up with five boards at Providence (Dec. 2) in the semifinals. She netted six points in the second half in a 73-66 win vs. Hampton (Nov. 24). Leonidas dished out a game-high six assists in just 14 minutes in the opener vs. Bryant (Nov. 12) in her collegiate debut. She finished second all-time at Parkview High School in career assists before spending a post-graduate year at the Loomis Chaffee School (Conn.) and earning NEPSAC All-Star honors.
RYAN FROM DOWNTOWN
Sophomore forward Kathleen Ryan (Clarence Center, N.Y.) has come off the bench and connected on 33.3 percent of her 3-point shots this season. She knocked down a pair of 3-pointers at Pacific (Nov. 25) to help lead Brown to the Turkey Tip-Off title. Last winter she shot 36.1 percent from 3-point distance and scored a career-high 13 points at Morgan State (Dec. 31).
BROWN 1,000-POINT SCORERS
In its program history, Brown boasts 19 student-athletes who have scored 1,000 or more points in their careers. Jordin Alexander '16 stands as the program's most recent 1,000-point scorer. In school history, four Bears – Vita Redding '99, Donna Yaffe '85, Martina Jerant '95, and Christa Champion '86 – have scored their 1,000th career point prior to their senior seasons. Brown junior guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) enters the Sacred Heart game with 953 career points.
START YOUR ENGINES
With its 7-1 record, Brown has matched its best start in program history through eight games. The Bears also began the year 7-1 in 1973-74 and in 2015-16. Brown opened its 45th season of women's basketball on Nov. 12, and the Bears have now registered a 19-26 record all-time in season openers. Brown has won its last four openers and five of its last six season debuts. At 10-1 through 11 games, the Bears began 2015-16 with their best start since going 11-1 in 1973-74. Brown opened the 2015-16 season at 5-0 for the first time in school history before falling at Manhattan. The team started 4-0 in the 1990-91 season and in the 1974-75 campaign. In 2004-05 the Bears notched a 6-1 start.
Brown will make at least 13 appearances on external broadcast platforms during the 2017-18 season, including six games on ESPN3. In addition to their six contests on ESPN3, the Bears will feature twice on the NESN family of networks, twice on Cox Yurview, twice on myRITV, and once on Eleven Sports. In total, 10 of Brown's 14 Ivy League games will appear on external broadcast platforms, including all eight of the Bears' Friday night conference games. Brown's six games on ESPN3 comprise at Dartmouth (Jan. 26), Penn (Feb. 2), at Cornell (Feb. 9), Harvard (Feb. 16), Columbia (Feb. 23), and at Princeton (Mar. 2).
Brown was picked to finish fourth in the 2017-18 Ivy League Women's Basketball Preseason Media Poll, the Ivy League conference office announced on Oct. 25. Defending league champion Penn took the top spot in the poll with 12 first-place votes and 129 total points. Princeton followed in second with five first-place votes and 110 total points while Harvard (98 points) and Brown (87) rounded out the top half of the poll. Yale (64), Cornell (48), Columbia (42), and Dartmouth (24) filled out the fifth through eighth slots, in order.
The Bears return 94 percent of their scoring, 95 percent of their rebounding, and all five starters from a team that earned a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament last season and gained the program's first win in a national postseason tournament at the Women's Basketball Invitational.
For the first time in program history – based off statistics available from the NCAA era (1981-82 to present) – Brown held four 300-point scorers on its roster in a single season. In 2016-17, guard Shayna Mehta '19 (San Francisco, Calif.), guard Justine Gaziano '20 (Natick, Mass.), forward Erika Steeves '19 (Montreal, Quebec), and guard Taylor Will '19 (Arlington Heights, Ill.) tallied 470, 397, 373, and 368 points respectively. Brown has carried three 300-point scorers in a single season three previous times – 2015-16, 1991-92, and 1984-85 – but never had a quartet of players reach the threshold prior to last year.
ANCIENT EIGHT OFFENSIVE LEADERS
As a team last season, the Bears led the Ivy League in points per game (72.3), field goals made per game (26.0), 3-pointers made per game (7.5), and field goal percentage (42.0) while ranking second in free throws made per game (12.8), 3-point percentage (35.5), and free throw percentage (73.9). The Bears carried two of the top three, three of the top eight, and four of the top 11 scorers in the Ivy League with Justine Gaziano '20 (Natick, Mass.), Shayna Mehta '19 (San Francisco, Calif.), Erika Steeves '19 (Montreal, Quebec), and Taylor Will '19 (Arlington Heights, Ill.), averaging 16.5, 15.7, 12.9, and 12.3 points per game on the year respectively.
SUMMER WELL SPENT
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec), junior guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.), and senior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) all engaged in significant projects off the court this summer. Steeves spent 23 days traveling through China, studying the market for amateur and professional basketball there through a Royce Fellowship for Sport and Society. Mehta spent 18 days in Chennai, India with Crossover Basketball Academy, using basketball as a vehicle to impact the education rates of marginalized communities there. Reilly spent her summer in New York City interning for the NBA G League's Business Operations team.
STEEVES NORTH OF THE BORDER
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) took part in a pair of camps with Canada Basketball's Women's National Team in the summer of 2017. Steeves competed in the program's Assessment Camp from May 12-22 in Edmonton, Alberta and in the organization's Development Team Tryouts from July 29 to August 8 in Toronto, Ontario.
IVY LEAGUE ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Erika Steeves '19 (Montreal, Quebec) and Shayna Mehta '19 (San Francisco, Calif.) both earned spots on the inaugural Ivy League Women's Basketball All-Tournament Team. In the Bears' semifinal match-up with Penn, Steeves recorded her sixth double-double of the year on 18 points and 12 rebounds while Mehta netted a team-high 19 points, hitting 5-of-11 shots from 3-point distance.
Guard Shayna Mehta '19 (San Francisco, Calif.) and guard Justine Gaziano '20 (Natick, Mass.) both garnered Second Team All-Ivy honors last winter, becoming the first pair of Bears to earn Second Team All-Ivy or better since 2006. At the end of the regular season, Mehta stood fourth in the league in points per game, second in steals per game, and fifth in assists per game while Gaziano ranked second in the conference in points per game, third in field goal percentage, and fourth in 3-point percentage.
STEEVES EARNS COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT
Forward Erika Steeves '19 (Montreal, Quebec) gained 2016-17 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-District accolades. In order to earn CoSIDA Academic All-District honors, a student-athlete must participate as a starter or an important reserve, have reached sophomore academic standing, and maintain at least a 3.30 cumulative grade point average.
FIRST-EVER NATIONAL POSTSEASON WIN
Brown recorded its first-ever win in a national postseason tournament with an 81-75 win over UMBC in the first round of the WBI, joining the 1993-94 team's win in an Ivy League playoff game as the program's only other postseason win. The team's 17 wins last season marked the most victories for the Bears since the team won 18 games in back-to-back seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06.
BACK-TO-BACK WINNING SEASONS
After going 15-13 overall in 2015-16 and 17-13 in 2016-17, Brown posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since registering four straight seasons above .500 from 2002-06. Brown's 7-7 mark in Ivy League play stood as the Bears' first season at .500 or better in league play since going 7-7 and finishing in fourth place in 2011-12.
Last winter, Brown set single-season program records for games played (30), points (2,169), field goals made (779), 3-pointers made (226), and free throw percentage (.739).
IVIES IN MARCH
For the first time in the history of the Ivy League, four women's basketball teams competed in the postseason last year. Penn earned the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Championship while Princeton gained the conference's automatic bid into the WNIT. Harvard garnered an at-large spot into the WNIT, and Brown made its first-ever appearance in the WBI.
Senior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) and junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) will serve the Bears as captains during the 2017-18 season. Reilly is set to act as a captain for Brown for the second straight year.
CLASS OF 2021
Brown welcomes five student-athletes to the program in its Class of 2021. The group includes center Jenna Benzinger (Williamstown, Mass.), forward Morgan Clausen (Algonquin, Ill.), guard McKenna Dale (Storrs, Conn.), guard Dominique Leonidas (Stone Mountain, Ga.), and guard/forward Savannah Lewis (Westlake Village, Calif.).
Brown head coach Sarah Behn made two tweaks to her staff during the offseason, promoting Jeffrey Kirpas – the team's operations coordinator in 2016-17 – to an assistant coach position and hiring Sophie Albano-Alisberg as the team's new operations coordinator.
With a 10-6 mark in non-conference games last winter, Brown posted its fifth-most non-conference wins in program history. With a 12-2 mark in non-conference contests in 2015-16, Brown finished second in program history for non-conference victories in a season. The Bears went 13-2 in non-league games in 1974-75 and notched 11 such wins in 1973-74 and 1975-76. The team captured nine non-conference triumphs in 1991-92, 1990-91, and 2011-12.
THE SACRED HEART SERIES HISTORY
Brown and Sacred Heart have met eight times on the hardwood with the Bears claiming a 5-3 edge in the all-time series. The Bears and Pioneers last met on Nov. 14, 2016 with Brown capturing an 80-66 decision at the Pitt Center in Fairfield, Conn. Guard Justine Gaziano '20 (Natick, Mass.) led all scorers in the match-up with 22 points.
SCOUTING THE PIONEERS
Sacred Heart enters Wednesday's tilt with a 3-4 overall record, coming off a 65-55 win over Lehigh on Sunday. The Pioneers have already faced one Ivy League opponent this season, falling at Harvard, 70-62. Candice Leatherwood leads the team's four double-figure scorers with 16.2 points per game. Erin Storck has netted 14.0 points per game, and Katherine Haines has averaged 13.6 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
After hosting Sacred Heart, Brown plays at Colgate University on Sunday, Dec. 10 at noon (Patriot League Network) prior to breaking for finals.
SECOND ANNUAL IVY LEAGUE TOURNAMENT
Brown will look to compete at the second annual Ivy League Tournament, which is set to return to The Palestra in Philadelphia, Pa., from Mar. 10-11, 2017. Semifinals for the tournament will take place at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Mar. 10 on ESPN3, and the final for the tournament will tip off at 4:00 p.m. on Mar. 11 on ESPNU. Tickets for the tournament are on sale at IvyMadness.com.
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.