CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Sophomore guard Justine Gaziano scored a game and season-high 28 points, and junior guard Shayna Mehta netted 25 points as the game's second-leading scorer, but Brown University women's basketball dropped an 87-85 decision at Harvard University on Saturday evening at Lavietes Pavilion.
The Bears (13-4, 1-3 Ivy) took an 81-80 lead with 3:51 left and pulled within one point twice in the final 2:30 before the host Crimson (11-6, 3-1 Ivy) held on for the win to improve to 8-0 at home this season.
Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) connected on 9-of-13 field goals, 4-of-6 shots from 3-point distance, and 6-of-6 free throws as part of her 28-point outing. She scored over 20 points for the eighth time this season and 14th time in her career.
Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) made 11-of-19 field goals, including 11-of-13 shots from inside the 3-point arc, to score 25 points for the second straight night. She tallied seven rebounds and three assists, while scoring over 20 points for the seventh time this year and 20th time in her career.
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) totaled 11 points and nine rebounds, converting 4-of-8 shots from the field. Freshman guard Dominique Leonidas (Stone Mountain, Ga.) notched six points and a team-high six assists, junior forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) scored seven points, and freshman guard McKenna Dale (Storrs, Conn.) chipped in six points.
For the game, the Bears shot 53.2 percent (33-of-62) from the field and 67.5 percent (27-of-40) from inside the 3-point line. Brown scored over 80 points for the ninth time this season. Harvard countered with 34,3-percent (12-of-35) shooting from distance and held a 12-2 edge in second-chance points.
Trailing 70-66 entering the fourth quarter, baskets from Butler, Mehta, and sophomore guard Randi Richardson (Flint, Mich.) knotted the game at 72-72 with 6:53 to play. A 3-point play from Butler and a steal-and-score from Mehta kept it tied at 77-77. Mehta pushed Brown ahead 79-77 with 4:32 to go, and Gaziano gave Brown an 81-80 edge with 3:51 left on a pair of free throws.
Harvard went ahead 84-81 with 2:39 remaining, but a pair of free throws from Steeves made it 84-83 at the 2:24 mark. After the Crimson took an 86-83 edge with 2:01 left, neither team scored before Leonidas converted a layup with 34 seconds to go to make it 86-85. Harvard made one free throw with 5.7 seconds left before a last-chance shot from Brown missed the mark.
A 3-point play from Dale gave the Bears a 52-51 edge early in the third quarter before Mehta tied the game, 54-54, with a layup at the 6:52 mark. A 9-2 Harvard run gave the Crimson a 63-56 lead, but a 6-0 spurt from Gaziano made it 63-62. A layup from Steeves with 21 seconds left in the third brought Brown within 70-66 at the end of the quarter.
After Harvard scored the game's first nine points, Brown responded with a 23-2 run to take a 23-11 lead with 2:44 to go in the opening quarter. During the run, Gaziano scored 13 points, including a trio of 3-pointers while Steeves and Mehta each netted five points. Gaziano scored back-to-back fast-break layups inside of the final minute to keep Brown up 29-21 at the end of one.
Consecutive jumpers in the lane from Mehta gave Brown a 33-23 lead with 6:52 to play in the second quarter before Harvard pulled within 33-30. A step-back 3-pointer from Dale kept Brown up 36-30, and a corner trey from Gaziano made it 43-36 with 2:37 to go in the half. A layup from Leonidas at the shot clock buzzer allowed Brown to maintain a 45-44 lead heading to the locker room.
In the first quarter, Brown connected on 11-of-17 field goals (64.7 percent) and 4-of-5 shots from 3-point distance (80.0 percent). For the first half, the Bears shot 58.1 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from distance.
For Harvard, Taylor Rooks scored a team-high 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting while Katie Benzan scored 21 points, netted 6-of-13 treys, and distributed nine assists. Sydney Skinner added 16 points, and Jeannie Boehm secured a game-best 13 rebounds.
Next, Brown hosts its first full Ivy League weekend with home games against Penn (Friday, Feb. 2, 6:00 p.m., ESPN3/ILN) and Princeton (Saturday, Feb. 3, 4:00 p.m., ILN).
Video of all Brown women's basketball home contests and all Ivy League games, home and away, will be broadcast live on the Ivy League Network, now available on Apple TV, Roku, and the ILN app for Android and Apple devices.
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.