BUENA VISTA, Va. - The Bryn Mawr basketball team was back in action earlier Friday evening as they kicked off a weekend road trip by taking on the Knights of Southern Virginia University. This one turned into a dramatic affair, as both sides battled for the lead over the first three quarters and into the final frame. The Owls got a tremendous 24-point performance from Halena Martin to help lead the way, and seniors Cleo Elizabeth-Robertson and Elizabeth Chan also put on very solid showings for Bryn Mawr. However, the Knights used an 11-0 run in the middle of the fourth quarter to outscore Bryn Mawr 24-11 in that frame and ultimately claim an 81-61 win on the night.
Tonight's matchup was a rematch of last year's season-opener for the Owls, but this time, Bryn Mawr got off to a much better start. Despite giving up the first seven points of the night to the Knights, the Owls roared back to take a lead of their own in the first quarter. Sydney Garner got Bryn Mawr on the board by splitting a pair of free throws, and then Halena Martin earned a steal and converted a jumper for the Owls' first basket of the night. Later, Cleo Elizabeth-Robertson made a sweet layup and earned an and-one on a nice feed from Odinaka Oranekwu, and then a triple from Brendan Harrison got Bryn Mawr within 9-14. With just under four minutes to play in the quarter, the Owls took their first lead of the night, as Martin hit back-to-back jumpers, one of them being the three-point variety, to put Bryn Mawr ahead 16-15. A free throw from Elizabeth Chan and one more jumper from Martin made it 19-15, and the Owls held SVU scoreless for the final four minutes of the frame to take a four-point lead to the first break.
The Owls would extend their lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, with two free throws from Laya Paladugu giving Bryn Mawr a six-point advantage. A lone free throw from Chan and another jumper from Martin later and the Owls had their largest lead of the night at 24-15. However, Southern Virginia would respond impressively, scoring the next 12 points of the game to vault back in front 27-24. Katie Garrish and Alexus Barnes were responsible for all 12 of those points, as Garrish converted three layups and Barnes knocked down two triples in a three-minute span to give the hosts their advantage. Martin would hit three free throws over the next two Bryn Mawr possessions to tie things back up, but the Knights closed the half on a 6-3 run to take a 33-30 lead into the halftime break.
The hosts immediately extended their lead out to 11 over the first several minutes of the third quarter, as despite an old-fashioned three-point play from Martin, Southern Virginia trundled ahead 44-33. After another bucket from Martin, SVU made that lead even larger with another deep three-pointer. Midway through the third, that lead became 14 after another layup from Garrish. However, the Owls were determined to stay in this one. Elizabeth-Robertson hit a pair of free throws, and then hit two more a few minutes later to get Bryn Mawr back within 10. The trips to the charity stripe continued for Bryn Mawr, as the Owls did a great job of driving to the dish and drawing contact. Lipi Paladugu hit the next pair for Bryn Mawr, and then two more from Martin made it a 46-52 game. Southern Virginia finally stopped the run with a free throw of their own, and then eventually worked their lead back up to nine. However, a basket from Laya Paladugu on a nice assist from her sister Lipi trimmed Bryn Mawr's deficit to just seven heading into the fourth quarter.
That late basket seemed to give the Owls some momentum headed into the final frame, as Lipi Paladugu opened the scoring for Bryn Mawr by canning a three on a feed from Harrison. A free throw from the Knights momentarily slowed Bryn Mawr's chase, but then a steal by Laya Paladugu turned into another huge basket for Bryn Mawr. Ultimately, Harrison pulled down a key offensive rebound and she laid the ball back home to cut the Bryn Mawr deficit to just three points with plenty of time to go in the final frame.
Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Owls would get in this one. Southern Virginia responded with a 5-0 run to re-extend their lead. A layup from Elizabeth-Robertson and then a free throw from Chan kept things somewhat close, but then the Knights put together that dagger of an 11-point run. In that stretch, the Knights took and made three three-pointers, two of which came from Amanda Wood, and those proved to build too much of a hill to climb for Bryn Mawr. Elizabeth Chan ended the run with a jumper, but with just two minutes to play and trailing by 17, there simply wasn't enough time left for the Owls, and SVU ultimately claimed the 81-61 win.
Along with Martin's career-high 24 points, Elizabeth-Robertson banked 12 points and Chan added six, each with six rebounds. Sydney Garner also had a huge day on the glass for the Owls, pulling down eight rebounds. Southern Virginia got double-digit scoring from three of their starters, led by a 19-point effort from Katie Garrish.
Bryn Mawr will look to quickly put tonight's tough result behind them, as the Owls will be right back in action tomorrow afternoon to take on Mary Baldwin. Game time on Saturday is slated for 2:00 PM.