BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr basketball team was finally able to put it all together for four quarters earlier Wednesday night in a non-conference tilt against Bryn Athyn. After playing some very solid first halves, only to fall at the hand of major comebacks by their opponents in recent contests, tonight the Owls took it to Bryn Athyn for a full 40 minutes. Laya Paladugu drained a three on Bryn Mawr's first shot of the game, and the Owls never looked back from there, ultimately cruising away to a comfortable 76-66 victory. Halena Martin led Bryn Mawr with 21 points in the contest, followed closely by 20 from Paladugu. Bryn Mawr outrebounded their opponents by 14, leading to a ten-point advantage in second-chance points. Bryn Athyn trailed from the start and could never really find a rhythm, with the Lions ultimately suffering the loss despite a 28-point performance by Clayshonia Cogmon.
Paladugu broke the seal with her three-pointer just 17 seconds into the contest on a fantastic kickout by Elizabeth Chan. Martin scored a jumper and later a free throw, and then Paladugu knocked down a pair of free throws to give Bryn Mawr an early 8-4 advantage. Bryn Athyn battled back to tie the game up at 10-10 midway through the first quarter, but the Owls ended the frame on a 9-4 run. Lipi Paladugu got that started with a jumper on a feed from Odinaka Oranekwu, and then Laya hit a jumper and a layup on back-to-back possessions. Cleo Elizabeth-Robertson got in the scorebook by splitting a pair of free throws, and then Laya Paladugu added one more bucket before the buzzer to give the Owls a 19-14 advantage going in to the second quarter.
Despite the early setback, Bryn Athyn managed to come out of the gates swinging to open the second quarter. The Lions scored the first three baskets of the frame, capped off by a deep three-pointer from Allie Warren, and that handed the visitors their first lead of the game. However, Bryn Mawr was determined to come out on top in this one, and the Owls immediately tied things back up on a nice jumper from Oranekwu. After a two-minute scoreless stretch for each team, it was Laya Paladugu who put the Owls back on top by knocking down another triple on a pass from Brendan Harrison. The two teams traded baskets, and then the Lions tied things up once again on another three-pointer of their own. Then, Oranekwu knocked down another jump shot to kickstart an 8-1 run to end the half for Bryn Mawr. Elizabeth Chan and Laya Paladugu each banked home layups in that stretch, and after a Bryn Athyn free throw, Elizabeth-Robertson hit another jumper to give the hosts a 34-27 lead heading into the halftime break.
Both sides came out looking to get some early momentum in what would certainly be a key third-quarter, and each team came up empty on their first possession. However, Bryn Mawr immediately got the offense going on their next trip down the floor, and that sparked an impressive third quarter from the Owls. Oranekwu got the scoring started with a layup on a nice assist from Martin, who then made a layup of her own on the next possession. Drawing contact on that basket put the solid junior at the line, where she promptly converted the "and-one" opportunity. That duo continued to pace the Owls in the third frame, as Oranekwu and Martin scored the next four baskets for the Owls. Meanwhile, Bryn Mawr was shutting the Lions down on defense, and when Laya Paladugu split a pair of free throws at the 5:13 mark, the Owls' advantage had ballooned out to 49-34. Martin stayed hot by making back-to-back jumpers, and then Brendan Harrison and Lipi Paladugu sandwiched some free throws around a basket from Elizabeth-Robertson. Bryn Mawr was executing almost flawlessly on offense, scoring on nearly every trip down the floor. Shannon Fisher hit a jumper from the top of the key on a great find by Lipi Paladugu, who was then rewarded by making a deep three-pointer the next time down the floor. That gave Bryn Mawr a 20-point lead, and though the Lions cut into that margin with a late basket, the Owls still took a 63-45 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Bryn Mawr was able to bump that lead back up to 20 seconds into the fourth quarter on a jumper from Chan, but then the Lions began to chip away at their deficit a little bit. Back-to-back baskets and a trip to the free throw line made it a 15-point game, and a three-pointer a minute later made Bryn Mawr's lead 67-53. However, the Owls were not going to let this one get away from them. Laya Paladugu knocked down her third three-pointer of the game a minute later, capping off her perfect three-for-three night from beyond the arc to stretch Bryn Mawr's lead back out to 70-53. Later on in the quarter, Fisher got on the board again with a wide open layup after the Owls broke Bryn Athyn's press. The Lions would force a few bad Bryn Mawr turnovers late in the final minutes of the quarter, ultimately scoring a few easy baskets late. However, that simply made the final score look closer than it truly was, as Bryn Mawr completed the dominating victory in 76-66 fashion.
Tonight's win snaps a 17-game losing streak for the Owls dating back to last season, and it is the first win for Bryn Mawr over Bryn Athyn in three tries. Today's 76 points is tied for the fifth-most points in a game by the Owls since the 1992-93 season. Tonight was also one of the best passing and "play-execution" nights of the season for the Owls, as the team racked up 15 assists and found plenty of wide open baskets as a result of operating their offense at a high level.
The team will look to continue to stay at that high level as they head into this weekend's contest. The Owls will close out the 2018 calendar year with one final non-conference home game, as they welcome Penn College of Technology to campus on Saturday. The Wildcats are another program still looking for their first win of the season. However, they are arguably slightly better than the Bryn Athyn team that the Owls faced tonight, so Saturday's contest should be quite a thriller. Game time on the Bryn Mawr campus on Saturday is set for 1:00 PM.