WASHINGTON, D.C. – Junior guard Shayna Mehta scored 22 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the last 1:15 of regulation, and sophomore guard Justine Gaziano netted 16 points, including six in overtime, as Brown University women's basketball rallied to beat Howard University in overtime, 85-81, on Sunday afternoon at Burr Gymnasium.
The Bears (11-1) closed regulation on a 10-3 run in the final 1:15, tying the game at 76-76, and netted the last seven points of overtime to rally past the host Bison (4-9) and win their ninth straight game.
Brown's nine-game win streak is the team's longest since 2005-06, and the Bears' 11-1 start matches the program's best start since 1973-74. Brown finished the month of December 6-0 and improved to 7-0 in road and neutral-site games this season.
"This game had me worried because of the holiday and because we have a new lineup so it was a big challenge to the kids," Brown head coach Sarah Behn said. "Howard had a great game plan and shot a bit better than they normally do. It was one of those games where we had a hard time making stops, and so with all those variables, I could not be more proud with the victory."
Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) connected on 4-of-9 shots from behind the arc as part of her 22-point effort, hitting two treys in the final 1:15 of regulation and giving Brown the lead for good with 32.5 seconds left in overtime. She grabbed seven rebounds and scored over 20 points for the fifth time this season.
Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) made 8-of-10 free throws and netted eight points in the final six minutes of the contest, finishing with 16 points and a season-high seven rebounds.
Senior forward Janie White (Clarksville, Tenn.) totaled her second double-double of the season with 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds and sank two free throws with 5.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. She blocked four shots for her eighth game this year with four or more blocks.
Junior forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) compiled 12 points, seven rebounds, and four assists, junior forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) posted season highs with eight points and eight boards, and senior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) netted a season-best eight points on 3-of-3 shooting with three assists. Freshman guard Dominique Leonidas (Stone Mountain, Ga.) added four assists.
"Being down seven with 1:30 to go, kids made big plays and really wanted it," Behn said. "I was really pleased with how we shot free throws and contested shots with blocks."
Brown outscored Howard 26-12 in the paint and shot 19-of-23 (82.6 percent) from the free throw line and 8-of-20 (40.0 percent) from distance. The Bison countered with 13-of-28 shooting (46.4 percent) from behind the arc.
The Bison used a 16-1 run to pull ahead 67-58 with 7:06 remaining and remained ahead 73-66 with 1:27 to go in regulation. Brown then began its 10-3 run to close the fourth quarter with a wing 3-pointer from Mehta. A jumper from Gaziano kept it at 74-71 with 48.8 seconds left, and another trey from Mehta cut it to 75-74 with 14.7 seconds to go. White connected on a pair of free throws with 5.5 seconds remaining to send the game to overtime tied at 76-76.
After Howard pulled ahead 81-78 with 2:21 left in overtime, Gaziano and Mehta each hit a jumper with 1:10 and 0:32.5 on the clock respectively to push Brown ahead 82-81. Gaziano made two free throws with 18.9 seconds left, and Reilly hit an insurance free throw with 3.4 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Early in the first quarter, a wing 3-pointer from Mehta helped keep Brown within 10-7 before the Bears used a 9-2 spurt to pull ahead 16-12 with 4:00 to go in the opening frame. Steeves hit a wing 3-pointer to cap the run before a put-back basket from freshman guard McKenna Dale (Storrs, Conn.) gave Brown a 22-15 edge with under a minute to play. Brown led 24-20 at the end of the first.
Butler sank a 3-pointer from the corner to keep Brown ahead 29-26 before the Bison tied the score at 29-29 with 6:22 to go until halftime. Brown then used an 11-4 spurt behind a 3-point play from Butler and a Steeves triple to pull ahead 40-33 with 2:04 left until the break. A wing trey from Reilly kept the visitors up 43-39 at the intermission.
With Brown trailing 49-48 in the third quarter, Mehta scored the Bears' next seven points to give the visitors a 55-51 edge. A layup from White pushed Brown ahead 57-51 with 4:20 left in the frame. The Bison closed the quarter on a 10-0 run to gain a 61-57 edge heading to the fourth stanza.
The hosts went ahead 67-58 with 7:06 to go in the fourth, completing a 16-1 run. A put-back basket from White made it 69-64, but Howard remained ahead 73-66 with 1:27 to play in regulation. In the final 75 seconds, Mehta hit a pair of 3-pointers, Gaziano made a jumper, and White connected on two free throws to knot the game at 76-76 going to overtime.
Despite a jumper from Gaziano, the Bison gained an 81-78 edge at the 2:21 mark of overtime before the Bears scored the game's last seven points. A jumper from Gaziano cut it to 81-80, and a jumper from Mehta in transition put Brown ahead for good at 82-81 with 32.5 seconds left. A pair of free throws from Gaziano with 18.9 seconds to play, and a rebound and free throw from Reilly with 3.4 seconds to go sealed the win.
For Howard, Sarah Edmond scored a game-high 28 points and hit 5-of-8 shots from 3-point distance. Ayonna Williams and Jayla Miles each posted 12 points and eight rebounds.
Next, Brown hosts Johnson & Wales for its Education Day game on Friday, Jan. 5 at noon. As part of the day, local elementary school students will hear from a variety of presenters in their respective fields prior to the game.
Brown scored over 80 points for the sixth time this season and has netted 70 or more points in 11 of 12 games this year … Brown won in overtime for the first time since defeating Fairleigh Dickinson, 79-74, on Dec. 21, 2014 … The Bears 11 non-conference wins are tied for the third most in program history … Brown improved to 5-0 all-time vs. Howard … The Bears tied their season high with 55 rebounds as a team … Brown has posted a 20-point scorer in all 12 games this season … Shayna Mehta now has 1,046 career points and moved into 16th place on Brown's all-time list. She passed Shonica Tunstall '92 … Mehta now has 166 career made 3-pointers and scored over 20 points for the 18th time in her career … Janie White posted her sixth career game with double-digit rebounds and her fourth of the season. She has scored in double figures four times this year and 20 times in her career … Erika Steeves has now scored in double figures seven times this year and 36 times in her career … Justine Gaziano has now scored in double figures 10 times in 11 games this year and 31 times in her career.
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.
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.