BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr basketball team faced off against tri-co rival Swarthmore earlier Thursday night in a packed Schwartz Gymnasium. With both sides sitting about even in the Centennial Conference standings it was sure to be a close contest, and it stayed that way for a good portion of the game. However, Swarthmore was finally able to pull out to a comfortable lead late in the game, ultimately taking a 64-40 win over the Owls. Bryn Mawr was led by Erica Dwyer's 12-point effort, while Cleo Elizabeth-Robertson and Halena Martin added eight more apiece. Swarthmore got 21 points out of Lindsay O'Sullivan to lead all scorers in the game, while Elizabeth Stiles added another 14 off the bench for the Garnet.
Swarthmore got the quick start in this one, scoring four points in the opening 37 seconds of play. Bryn Mawr was able to respond on a jumper from Martin, but then things slowed down as both sides struggled over their next few possessions. However, a layup from O'Sullivan sparked a nine-point run for the Garnet that put the visitors up 13-2 with four minutes to go in the first quarter. Many teams at this point in the season would have collapsed after such a start, but not Bryn Mawr. The Owls bounced right back with a run of their own, kicked off by a jumper from Martin. Then, a three-ball from Dwyer and a layup from Elizabeth-Robertson got the Owls within five. That duo would repeat their scoring before the quarter closed, ultimately helping Bryn Mawr close the gap to 18-13 after one.
The two teams traded baskets early on in the second quarter, with Sydney Garner getting in on the action for the Owls along with another layup from Elizabeth-Robertson. However, the Owls would start to miss shots and turn the ball over midway through the frame, allowing Swarthmore to begin to stretch their lead out. A bucket from Raina Williams at the 6:07 mark gave the visitors their first double-digit lead at 29-18. Bryn Mawr would try to answer back, led by a charge from Odinaka Oranekwu with a basket and a free throw. Later, Elizabeth-Robertson continued her strong first half with another basket inside, but Swarthmore would outscore Bryn Mawr 19-10 in the frame en route to a 37-23 lead at the halftime break.
As has been the case on several occasions so far this season, the third quarter was by far the best of the night for Bryn Mawr on both sides of the ball. It started right out of the gate, as Owls head coach Becky Tyler drew up a beautiful set play to find Elizabeth Chan wide open under the basket for an easy layup. The hot start would continue for the Owls, as Garner earned a trip to the line where she split the pair. After forcing a Garnet turnover, Martin would get in on the action with a jump shot, getting Bryn Mawr back within single digits. That ultimately served as a wake-up call to the Garnet, who finally got their first basket at the 6:23 mark of the third quarter. A pair of baskets put the Garnet back up 13, but Dwyer hit a bucket of her own to keep the Owls close. She would later earn a trip to the line for two free throws of her own, and then she canned her second three of the night to make it a 47-35 game. Chan would go on to hit a pair of free throws herself in the final minute, as Bryn Mawr hung right with the Garnet in a 14-16 third quarter.
Unfortunately, the offense was virtually non-existant in the fourth for both sides, and that spelled trouble for the Owls. Needing one more big quarter to try and make a comeback, Bryn Mawr instead got just three points in the frame on one-of-eleven shooting. That lone basket came from Martin with 7:41 to go in the game. Garner would hit one more free throw before the night was done, but Swarthmore did just enough to coast away with a 64-40 win on the night.
Tonight's game was eerily similar to the earlier contest this season between these two teams. In that one, Swarthmore protected home court with a 24-point win - exactly the same as tonight's margin. In fact, the final score - 66-42 - was almost exactly the same. Just as it was in that first contest, offensive rebounds were the key factor in tonight's loss. In January the Owls allowed 28 offensive rebounds - incredibly, exactly the same number that they gave up tonight. In tonight's loss, Bryn Mawr gave up 21 second-chance points and 19 points off turnovers, almost exactly the same combined amount as the first contest. And once again, it was O'Sullivan who did most of the damage in this one; the Swarthmore forward put up 24 in the first meeting, combining for 45 points against the Owls this season.
Bryn Mawr will be heading into the homestretch now, with just three games left over the final nine days of the season. The Owls will hit the road one last time Saturday for a contest at Gettysburg at 2:00 PM. Bryn Mawr will then return to campus next week for two home contests to close out their campaign. The Owls will welcome Muhlenberg to campus on Wednesday night before facing off against Johns Hopkins at 1:00 PM next Saturday.