PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Freshman guard Justine Gaziano scored a game-high 27 points – her fifth 20-point game of the year – to propel Brown University women's basketball to a 72-67 win over Cornell University on Friday night at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) scored five straight points for the Bears (12-6, 3-2 Ivy) to push the hosts ahead, 70-63, with 3:36 to play, and with a 70-67 edge, sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) finished off a steal and score with nine seconds left to close the win against the Big Red (11-7, 2-3 Ivy).
"I'm really proud of the girls. Cornell is a good team – they are all seniors," Brown head coach Sarah Behn said. "We handled adversity and made a comeback in the first half. Then we did enough good things at the end to hang on and win. It was a really good team effort."
Gaziano scored 20 or more points for the fifth time in 12 games played this season, connecting on 11-of-16 field goals and 5-of-5 shots from 3-point distance. She has averaged 22.4 points per game in Ivy League play.
Will netted 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting alongside a team-high four assists while sophomore forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) tied her career high with a game-best 11 rebounds.
In her first extended action of the season, junior forward Janie White (Clarksville, Tenn.) filled the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, eight points, four blocks, three assists, and two steals. Sophomore forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) chipped in seven boards and six points.
The Bears made 11 triples in the contest, marking their most in Ivy League play this season, and held the Big Red to 33.8-percent shooting in the game. Brown led 9-0 in fast break points.
Brown opened the game with an 8-2 edge behind eight straight points from four different Bears. After Gaziano hit her first 3-pointer of the game to make it 11-6 at the 6:41 mark of the first quarter, Cornell responded with a 19-2 stretch to pull ahead 25-13 with 7:40 to go in the second stanza.
The Bears answered with a 20-4 run to gain a 33-29 edge with 1:25 left in the half. Sophomore Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) and White started the run with back-to-back 3-pointers before a Mehta layup cut the deficit to 25-21. Consecutive treys from White and Gaziano capped a 14-2 burst in 3:00 to tie the game at 27-27 with 3:35 to go in the half.
Gaziano converted another pair of 3-pointers to push Brown ahead 35-31 with 49 seconds left, and Brown led 35-34 at the break. During the Bears' 20-4 run, Brown connected on 6-of-7 shots from 3-point distance with Gaziano making three, White two, and Mehta one.
The two teams played within two possessions throughout the third quarter with Gaziano and Will combining to score Brown's first 11 points in the period to keep the hosts ahead 48-46 at the 4:12 mark. A wing 3-pointer from Kathleen Ryan (Clarence Center, N.Y.) and a conventional 3-point play from Will helped give the Bears a 58-52 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
After Cornell scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter to grab a 59-58 edge, a layup from Gaziano and a corner 3-pointer from junior Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) pushed Brown back ahead 63-59 with 6:38 to play. Gaziano scored five straight points to keep the Bears up 70-63 with 3:36 left. In the final 15 seconds, Will made a steal and finished off a give-and-go with Mehta to close the win for the Bears.
For Cornell, Nia Marshall scored a team-high 22 points with seven rebounds, and Samantha Widmann added 11 points and eight boards.
Next, Brown hosts Columbia tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 4 at 4:00 p.m. (ILDN).
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.