Women’s Basketball Takes on UNCG in WBI Quarterfinals Sunday

Women’s Basketball Takes on UNCG in WBI Quarterfinals Sunday

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Brown University women's basketball will continue its run in the 2017 Women's Basketball Invitational as the Bears play at UNC Greensboro on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at Fleming Gymnasium in the quarterfinal round, coming off an 81-75 win over UMBC in the first round.

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Game Notes: Brown at UNCG in WBI Quarterfinals 

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. With its Mar. 19 date with UNCG, the Bears will compete farther than it ever has played into the month of March in program history and will play 30 games in a season for the first time in school history. The team's 17 wins this season mark the most victories for the Bears since the team won 18 games in back-to-back seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06. 

Brown has competed in five previous postseason games – its 81-75 win at UMBC in the WBI on Wednesday, its Ivy League Tournament game at Penn on Mar. 11, one game in the NCAA Championship and two games in Ivy League playoffs – and holds a 1-3 record in those games. On Mar. 11, Brown fell to Penn, 71-60, in the semifinals of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. In 1994, the Bears beat Dartmouth, 74-62, on March 13 in Cambridge, Mass., to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament where Brown fell to Connecticut, 79-60, in Storrs, Conn on March 16. In 2006, Brown dropped a 73-62 decision to Dartmouth in an Ivy playoff game on March 10 in New Haven, Conn. 

Now in its eighth season, the WBI features a 16-team, single-elimination bracket with first round games beginning on Wednesday, March 15 and running through the tournament's championship game, played no later than March 26. All games occur on campus sites. Penn stands as the only other Ivy League institution to have appeared in the WBI. The Quakers earned a berth in the tournament in 2013 and went on to win the Ivy League title in 2014. 

For the first time in the history of the Ivy League, four women's basketball teams will compete in the postseason. 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 will make its first-ever appearance in the WBI. Brown's March 16 meeting with UMBC matches the latest date into the month of March that the Bears have played a game. 

Sophomores Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) and Shayna Mehta (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. 

Sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) and freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) both garnered Second Team All-Ivy honors, 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. 

In the 2016-17 Ivy League Preseason Media Poll, the media picked Brown to finish in seventh place in the league standings. With the team's fourth-place finish, the Bears stood as the only team outside the preseason top-four to earn a spot in the Ivy League Tournament and came in as the only team to finish more than one spot ahead of its preseason ranking. Only two of the league's 17 voters – both representatives of Brown's media contingent – selected the Bears as a top-four finisher in the preseason. 

Brown's path to The Palestra took its share of twists and turns, but the Bears' 7-7 Ivy League record and 2-0 head-to-head mark against Cornell earned the team a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. The Bears began the Ivy season with a 98-88 win at Princeton – their first win at Princeton since 2003. A split with Yale put Brown at 2-2 in league play and a home sweep of Cornell and Columbia extended the Bears' record to 4-2. After splitting on the road at Harvard and Dartmouth, Brown remained in fourth place with a 5-3 record.

The Bears then dropped four narrow contests at home to Penn (71-68), Princeton (81-75), Dartmouth (92-88, OT), and Harvard (66-63) to fall to 5-7 in league play and to fifth place. Brown responded with its first road sweep of Columbia and Cornell since 2006 to punch its ticket to the tournament. 

Coming into the final weekend of Ivy League play, Brown's most likely path to the Ivy tournament came with earning two wins coupled with a Yale loss. After Cornell defeated Yale on Friday prior to the conclusion of Brown's game, the Bears needed to top Columbia and Cornell to reach the tournament. The Bears did just that in their longest road trip of the season, which included shoot-arounds in the cities of Ardsley, N.Y., at the House of Sports and in Scranton, Pa., at Lackawanna College. 

After going 15-13 overall last season and standing at 17-12 overall entering the WBI quarterfinals, Brown has 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. 

Brown, the Ivy League's top scoring team, has set a program record with 2,085 total points on the season. The Bears broke the previous program record for team points in a single season of 1,971 points in the 1993-94 season. 

For the first time in program history – based off statistics available from the NCAA era (1981-82 to present) – Brown holds four 300-point scorers on its roster in a single season. Thus far in 2016-17, sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.), freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.), sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.), and sophomore forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) have tallied 446, 381, 359, and 359 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 this year. 

The Ivy League honored 16 members in its inaugural class of Legends of Ivy League Basketball with longtime Bears women's coach Jean Marie Burr and Brown men's basketball all-time leading scorer Earl Hunt representing the Bears. Burr – who won four Ivy League championships (1992, 1993, 1994, 2006) while coaching from 1988-2014 – was honored during halftime of the Penn-Brown game. Hunt – the Bears' all-time leading scorer with 2,041 points – was honored at halftime of the Princeton-Penn men's game. 

A total of 10 of Brown's 14 Ivy League regular season games came down to a margin of 10 points or fewer with the Bears holding a 5-5 record in those games. The Bears last four setbacks in Ivy play came by a total of 16 points with two possessions or fewer deciding all four contests. Brown opened its league schedule with a 98-88 win at Princeton before topping Yale at home, 76-73. In the first weekend of February, Brown beat Cornell (72-67) and Columbia (69-60) before falling at Harvard (69-59) and winning at Dartmouth (65-62). Over the next two weekends, the Bears dropped narrow decisions to Penn (71-68), Princeton (81-75), Dartmouth (92-88, OT), and Harvard (66-63). 

As a team, the Bears lead the Ivy League in points per game (71.9), field goals made per game (25.7), 3-pointers made per game (7.5), and field goal percentage (41.7) while ranking second in free throws made per game (12.9), 3-point percentage (35.5), and free throw percentage (74.3). The Bears carry two of the top three, three of the top nine, and four of the top 11 scorers in the Ivy League in t freshman Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) and sophomores Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.), Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec), and Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.), averaging 16.6, 15.4, 12.8, and 12.4 points per game on the year respectively. 

Sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) earned her third Ivy League Player of the Week award on Mar. 6 after recording 20.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game to lead Brown to wins over Columbia and Cornell and a berth in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. She made 15-of-25 field goals, 5-of-8 3-pointers, and 6-of-7 free throws on the week. She scored 28 points, making a career-high 11 field goals (11-of-16 overall, 4-of-5 on 3-pointers), along with six rebounds and three assists in a de facto play-in game at Cornell on Saturday. She posted a double-double on 13 points and 10 rebounds at Columbia on Friday. 

Freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) has scored in double figures in 18 of 20 games since Dec. 22 after missing the better part of seven games due to injury. She ranks second in the Ivy League with 16.6 points per game in all games and 17.0 points per game in conference contests. She stands fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (47.2), second in field goals made per game (5.8), eighth in 3-point percentage (37.2), sixth in free throws made per game (3.5), and sixth in free throw percentage (80.8). In games in which she has played more than one minute, she is posting 17.3 points over 32.9 minutes per game. In her first two Ivy League games, she tallied 28.5 points per game while shooting 59.5 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from 3-point range, and 75.0 percent from the line. 

Sophomore guards Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) and Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) stand among the top 11 scorers in the Ivy League, having scored 15.4 and 12.4 points per game apiece to rank third and 11th in the league. Mehta and Will rank second and third with 1.9 and 1.8 steals per game respectively. Mehta stands fourth in the conference in field goals made per game (5.7), sixth in assists per game (2.8), fourth in 3-point percentage (39.2), and second in 3-pointers made per game (2.0) while Will ranks fifth in the conference with 3.5 free throws made per game. Mehta and Will have played 33.7 and 31.2 minutes per game apiece. Mehta ranks ahead of the leading scorer from six other schools in the Ancient Eight. 

Freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) has scored 20 or more points  six times this year. She netted 15 points in Brown's WBI first round game at UMBC. Gaziano scored 24 points against Princeton at home and has averaged 28.5 points per game against the Tigers in her career. She netted 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting and 5-of-5 shooting from distance vs. Cornell. After pouring in 30 points against Rhode Island College, she netted a career-high 33 points at Princeton before scoring 24 points at Penn and 17 points vs. Yale at home. She netted 17 points vs. Dartmouth at home, totaled 14 points and seven boards vs. Harvard at home, and netted 16 points on the road against both the Crimson and Big Green. She netted 13 points at Cornell and 10 points in the Ivy semifinals at Penn. Gaziano posted her first collegiate double-double behind 19 points and a season-high 12 rebounds against Morgan State after dropping in 16 points at VCU. She made her return from injury against St. Peter's, totaling 14 points and seven rebounds. She netted a game-high 22 points in a win over Sacred Heart. In the second half against SHU, she totaled 17 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-3 shooting from 3-point distance. She scored 17 points in her collegiate debut in a win over Howard. She scored 19.5 points per game over her first two collegiate contests before sustaining an injury in the first minute of the Bryant game. 

Sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) has scored in double figures in 25 of 29 games this season, netted 20 or more points seven times, posted five double-doubles, averaged 15.4 points per game, and connected on 39.2 percent of her 3-point shots. She totaled 22 points and 10 rebounds, draining 5-of-9 3-pointers, in the WBI first round at UMBC. Mehta scored 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting – marking a career high for field goals made – and 4-of-5 3-pointers at Cornell after posting a double-double on 13 points and 10 rebounds at Columbia. She scored a team-high 19 points at Penn in the Ivy semifinals, sinking 5-of-11 3-pointers. She totaled 20 points and nine rebounds at home vs. Dartmouth and netted 16 points at home vs. Harvard. She tallied 21 points with a career-high six assists vs. Princeton at home. Mehta posted her first career double-double in Ivy play with 12 points and 10 rebounds at Harvard before scoring 16 points on 8-of-15 shooting at Dartmouth. She scored 18 points and tied her career high with six steals vs. Columbia. In the Bears' Ivy home opener vs. Yale, she posted 20 points and seven rebounds. She netted 17 points in Brown's Ivy opener at Princeton and scored a season-high 29 points in a win at Binghamton, netting 21 points in the second half. Her 19-point, 11-rebound double-double helped lead Brown to a win over St. Peter's. Mehta totaled another double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds against URI and followed that with 13 points vs. Providence in the Ocean State Tip-Off title game. Mehta posted 21 points at Bryant, notching 16 points in the second half. She opened the season with 18 points in a win over Howard. In Brown's trip south, she scored in double figures at VCU (15) and at Morgan State (13). As a freshman, Mehta won Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors unanimously, ranked second on Brown with 13.6 points per game, and stood second in the Ivy League in 3-point field goal percentage (41.1 percent). 

Sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) has averaged 12.4 points per game, has eclipsed 20 points three times this year, and has scored in double figures 19 times. Will netted 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting at Columbia. She averaged 16.0 points per game in the Bears' home wins over Cornell and Columbia, scoring 18 vs. the Lions and 14 vs. the Big Red. She netted 15 points vs. Dartmouth at home and added 13 points both vs. Princeton at home and at Harvard. In Brown's Ivy opening weekend, she scored 11 and 10 points respectively at Princeton and Penn. In the team's Ivy home opener vs. Yale, she totaled eight points, seven rebounds, and five assists. She poured in 22 points in the Ocean State Tip-Off title game vs. Providence and netted 15 points in the semifinals vs. URI. Will scored 18 points against Binghamton and held Imani Watkins, America East's leading scorer, to five points in the second half. She tallied a career-high 25 points at Bryant and scored a team-high 20 points in a win over Howard in the season opener. Will eclipsed double-figures for the first time in her career against the Bison, sinking 12-of-15 free throws. She scored 18 points at VCU, 17 points vs. St. Peter's, 15 points vs. Colgate, and 14 points vs. Sacred Heart. She has substantially increased her productivity from last season after averaging 1.7 points per game as a rookie. 

Freshman guard Justine Gaziano (Natick, Mass.) earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week and USBWA National Freshman of the Week honors after averaging 29.0 points per game and leading Brown to a 98-88 win over Princeton on Jan. 13. She scored a career-high 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting at Princeton and followed that with a game-high 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting from the field against Penn. Earlier in the week, she poured in 30 points against Rhode Island College on 11-of-17 shooting. Her 33 points against Princeton tied for the eighth most in a single game in program history and tied for the third most against an Ivy opponent in school history. 

Brown earned its first win on the road at Princeton since March 1, 2003 when the Bears topped the Tigers, 98-88, on Friday, Jan. 13. The Bears scored their most points ever against an Ivy League opponent in the victory. Brown scored over 80 points for the sixth time on the season, distributed a season-high 26 assists, and committed a season-low seven turnovers. The effort earned recognition as the Hero Sports "Offensive Performance of the Week" for Division I women's basketball. 

Sophomore forwards Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) and Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) have anchored the Bears' frontcourt. Steeves has averaged close to a double-double with 12.8 points and a team-high 8.4 rebounds per game, ranking fourth in the Ivies in rebounding and ninth in scoring. She has tallied six double-doubles on the year and ranks 15th in the NCAA in defensive rebounds per game (7.2). Butler has added 4.3 points and 4.5 boards per game and logged her first collegiate double-double with 14 points and 11 boards in the Ocean State Tip-Off title game vs. PC. 

Sophomore forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) has scored 20 or more points four times, posted six double-doubles – with four coming in a span of six games from Nov. 20 to Dec. 8 – and ranks 15th in the NCAA and first in the Ivy League with 7.2 defensive rebounds per game this season. She poured in 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting in the WBI first round at UMBC. She registered a double-double on 18 points and 12 rebounds at Penn in the Ivy semifinals. Steeves dropped a career-high 27 points at home vs. Penn, hitting 10-of-14 field goals and a career-best 5-of-8 3-pointers. In home games against Harvard and Dartmouth she averaged 20.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. She paced Brown in a win at Dartmouth, compiling 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds. Steeves totaled 12 points and nine boards vs. Columbia at home. In Brown's Ivy home opener, she notched her first double-double in Ivy play with 10 points and 12 boards vs. Yale. Steeves nearly posted a double-double at Yale, finishing with 15 points and nine boards. She scored in double figures in both games over Brown's Ivy opening weekend with 11 and 10 points at Princeton and Penn respectively. Steeves powered the Bears against URI, scoring 22 points with 10 rebounds. She totaled a double-double with a career-high 18 rebounds and 18 points in a win at Binghamton. She posted additional double-doubles against Vermont (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Colgate (16 points and 11 rebounds). She scored 15 points at VCU, registered 11 points and nine boards at SHU, and tallied 10 points and eight boards at Bryant. She opened the year with a game-high 11 rebounds alongside nine points vs. Howard. As a freshman, Steeves won three Ivy Rookie of the Week awards, led Brown with 6.1 rebounds per game, and scored 8.0 points per game. 

Junior forward Janie White (Clarksville, Tenn.) returned to the Brown team in January after studying abroad in Switzerland during the fall semester and has averaged 5.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game over 12 contests. White poured in 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor, 2-of-2 shooting from 3-point distance, and 2-of-2 free throws with four steals and three blocks in 22 minutes in a win at Columbia. In her first extended action of the year, she posted eight points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks vs. Cornell at home and followed that with eight points and six boards vs. Columbia. She totaled nine rebounds and six points vs. Harvard at home, tallied eight points and four blocks at Harvard, and notched eight points and four assists vs. Princeton at home. She chipped in seven points, four assists, and three steals at Penn in the Ivy semis. White ranks fourth on Brown's all-time blocks list with 123 career blocks. 

Sophomore forward Erika Steeves (Montreal, Quebec) gained CoSIDA First Team Academic All-District accolades, the College Sports Information Directors of America announced on Feb. 9. 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. 

Brown sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) garnered Ivy League Co-Player of the Week honors for the second time this year on Jan. 23 after leading Brown to a 76-73 win over Yale on Jan. 20. Mehta recorded 20 points and seven rebounds in the Bears' Ivy home opener. She shot 7-of-11 from the field, 2-of-4 from 3-point distance, and 4-of-4 on free throws. She added three assists in the Bears' first win over the Bulldogs since Jan. 19, 2013. 

Brown won the inaugural Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament, defeating Rhode Island, 76-65, in the semifinals on Dec. 3 and topping previously undefeated Providence College, 77-70, in the championship game. Sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) earned Tournament MVP honors after leading all scorers with 18.5 points per game, and sophomore forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) gained All-Tournament Team accolades. 

Sophomore guard Shayna Mehta (San Francisco, Calif.) won Ivy League Co-Player of the Week accolades on Dec. 26 after recording her second double-double of the season on 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Brown to an 80-71 win over Saint Peter's. She shot 7-of-10 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free throw line while adding three assists and one steal. 

Sophomore guard Taylor Will (Arlington Heights, Ill.) won Ivy League Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 5 to go with Ocean State Tip-Off Tournament MVP accolades after leading all scorers at the tournament with 18.5 points per game. She scored a game-high 22 points in the 77-70 title game win over Providence, hitting 3-of-4 shots from 3-point distance. She posted 15 points, five rebounds, and four assists in a 76-65 semifinal win over Rhode Island. 

Sophomore forward Mary Butler (Bangor, Maine) earned Ocean State Tip-Off All-Tournament Team honors after recording her first career double-double with career highs in points (14) and rebounds (11) in the title game vs. Providence. Butler scored eight points on 4-of-4 shooting at Columbia, and compiled seven rebounds and four assists at Cornell. She tied her career best with 11 boards vs. Cornell at home and compiled 10 points and six rebounds at home vs. Dartmouth. Butler grabbed a team-high seven boards in the Ivy opener at Princeton. She added nine points and six boards in the Ocean State semifinals vs. URI. Butler corralled a career-high 11 rebounds in a win at Sacred Heart, chipping in seven points and four assists. She logged eight points and eight boards vs. Colgate. She has averaged 4.3 points and 4.4 rebounds per game this season. Butler played in all 28 games in 2015-16, making 10 starts with seven coming in Ivy play. She posted 3.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game as a freshman. 

Junior guard Megan Reilly (Norwood, N.J.) will serve as Brown's captain in 2016-17, bringing the Bears veteran leadership as the team's only member of the junior or senior class to play the entire season. Reilly has played in 83 career games with 27 starts. She leads the Ivies in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.5) and has started 10 games this season. She dished out seven assists and hit two 3-pointers in the WBI first round at UMBC. She passed out a career-high eight assists at Princeton and tallied seven points and four rebounds at home vs. Dartmouth. She grabbed a career-high eight rebounds with five points and five assists vs. URI and came back with seven points and three assists vs. Providence. Reilly netted a season-high eight points vs. Manhattan and tallied five points and five rebounds in the season opener vs. Howard. She came up with a team-high four steals with five points and three assists in a win at Binghamton. 

Freshman guard Abby O'Keefe (St. Louis, Mo.) and freshman forward Kathleen Ryan (Clarence Center, N.Y.) have provided the Bears with a spark with both rookies making their first collegiate starts against Manhattan. O'Keefe has averaged 4.6 points and 1.7 rebounds per game and tied her career high with 12 points at Princeton. She scored a season-high 12 points in the Ocean State Tip-Off title game vs. Providence and netted 11 points vs. Yale. O'Keefe netted seven points and hit 2-of-3 3-pointers at Columbia. She logged nine points against St. Peter's, Vermont, and Howard, eight points vs. RIC, Manhattan and Binghamton, and seven points and five assists at SHU. Ryan has posted 3.6 points and 1.5 rebounds per game while connecting on 36.1 percent of her 3-point shots. She scored a season-high 13 points at Morgan State and netted 12 points on 4-of-5 shooting from 3-point distance at Vermont. 

Brown and UNCG will meet on the hardwood for the first time in women's hoops in Sunday's match-up.

UNCG brings an 18-14 overall record into Sunday's contest, coming off a 45-37 win over Charleston Southern in the first round of the WBI. The Spartans went 7-7 during the regular season in Southern Conference play and advanced to the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament. Nadine Soliman, the SoCon Freshman of the Year and a Second Team All-SoCon pick, leads the team with 16.1 points per game while Te'ja Twitty averages 9.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Bailey Williams earned Third Team All-SoCon, and head coach Trina Patterson gained SoCon Coach of the Year accolades.

The two teams share just one common opponent with both sides following to VCU in non-conference play. 

The winner of the Brown-UNCG quarterfinal game will meet the victor of host St. Francis (Pa.) (17-14, 13-5 NEC) and Milwaukee (21-11, 11-7 Horizon) in the semifinal round on either Wednesday or Thursday. 

Video of all home contests and all Ivy League games, home and away, will be broadcast live on ILDN.TV/BROWN. Fans can subscribe and view games by purchasing yearly, monthly, weekly or daily packages. 

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.