Bears Rally for 62-59 Win Over CCSU

Providence, RI – It was not until senior forward Natalie Bonds (Tavares, FL) hit a jump shot with 3:33 remaining that the Brown women’s basketball team (1-2) took its first lead of the game, but the Bears’ resiliency paid off in a come-from-behind, 62-59 win over visiting Central Connecticut State University (1-3) at the Pizzitola Center on Saturday evening. Sophomore Aileen Daniels (Waldwick, NJ) paced the Bears with a career-high 17 points, many coming during crucial runs, as Brown earned its first victory of the 2009-10 season.

Brown played from behind from the first possession, as CCSU sophomore guard Shontice Simmons and junior forward Leanne Crockett combined for five three-pointers in the first 5:43 to stake the Blue Devils to an early 15-4 lead. That lead got as large as 12 before the first Brown run of the contest brought the score to 24-20 with 6:36 to play in the half. Brown was able to pull within three with under a minute to play, thanks in large part to two Daniels layups off offensive rebounds, but Simmons’ fourth trey of the half, a heave from just inside half court as time expired, gave the visitors a 34-28 lead heading into the break.

In the second half, the Bears showed a renewed commitment on the defensive end that paid dividends, as they kept the Blue Devils in their sights the whole way, letting the lead grow no larger than six. Just after the midway point in the second half, the Bears finally made their move. A jumper by sophomore guard Hannah Passafuime (Soquel, CA) cut the lead to 52-50 with 8:24 to play, and after a steal on the defensive end, freshman guard Sheila Dixon (Schenectady, NY) led a fast break the other way, setting up fellow first-year Caroline King (Valencia, PA), who finished strong to tie the game.

Still, the Bears were unable to get over the hump until Bonds hit a jump shot after a Dixon steal to make the score 58-57 with 3:33 remaining. CCSU got the lead back when junior forward Justina Udenze scored 21 seconds later, but a Bonds free throw on the other end tied the game, and the senior hit a layup after an offensive rebound at the 1:27 mark to put Brown on top for good. A Daniels free throw provided the final 62-59 margin, as the Bears took home their first win of the young season.

Brown Head Coach Jean Marie Burr used her bench throughout the game, subbing as many as four or five players at a time on at least three occasions. Daniels came off the bench to lead the Bears in scoring, shooting 5-8 from the field and 6-7 from the charity stripe. Dixon also came off the bench, scoring 11 points, recording team highs with eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks, and tying with Passafuime for the team high with three steals. Bonds finished with nine points, seven of which came in the crucial final 6:40 of the contest, and five rebounds, all on the offensive glass.

For the Blue Devils, Simmons and Crockett led the way with 19 and 16 points, respectively. Simmons was 4-5 from beyond the arc, while Crockett was 3-10. CCSU fell despite holding a 47-37 margin on the boards, as Crockett had a game-high 13, followed by Udenze with 11 and junior Kerianne Dugan with 10.

The Bears will not have long to dwell on their win, as they next play in-state rival Bryant in Smithfield on Tuesday at 7 pm.