Owls Give Franklin & Marshall Solid Battle at Home

Halena Martin lines up a shot against Swarthmore in the fall of 2018

BRYN MAWR, Pa. - The Bryn Mawr basketball team got their first taste of home in 2019 earlier Thursday night, as the Owls welcomed Franklin & Marshall to campus for a Centennial Conference showdown. It was a tense battle in the opening minutes in tonight's affair, with both sides knocking down key shots early. However, a big run in the second quarter helped the Diplomats pull ahead, and they were able to cling on to their lead the rest of the way through a 75-50 victory. Bryn Mawr got several great performances on the night, keyed by a 7-for-10 effort from Halena Martin. The junior forward led all scorers with 19 points, while Laya Paladugu added another 11 for the Owls. Franklin & Marshall featured four different players in double-digits, led by an 18-point showing by Haley Pilone.

The Owls jumped out to a quick lead in the game thanks to a turnover from Franklin & Marshall and a smooth jumper from Martin. The Diplomats jumped out in front thanks to back-to-back buckets inside, but Martin tied things back up on a great feed from Brendan Harrison. Pilone's first three-ball of the game helped push the Diplomats out to a 10-6 lead. However, Elizabeth Chan converted a layup, and then Martin canned a three-pointer of her own on an assist from Laya Paladugu, and that tied the contest up at 11-all with 3:26 to go in the first quarter.

Unfortunately for Bryn Mawr, the Owls went on a severe scoring drought that lasted them into the second quarter. Franklin & Marshall's defense clamped down and held Bryn Mawr scoreless until the 5:36 mark of the second quarter, allowing the Diplomats to put together a 17-0 run and take a commanding 28-11 lead. Martin put a stop to that run with another jumper, and then Elizabeth Chan scored the final five points of the first half for the Owls. However, Franklin & Marshall continued to score as well, and the visitors ultimately took a 34-18 lead to the locker room at the half.

F&M extended their lead to 40-18 after the break, but Bryn Mawr outscored the Diplomats over the rest of the third quarter. Martin once again sparked that rally, as she knocked down another jumper. Laya Paladugu then hit a three from the top of the arc, which proved contagious, as Martin followed that with a three-ball of her own. A little later, Sydney Garner put in a great shift down low in the post, giving her defender a fantastic up-and-under move to get an easy look at a layup. Harrison followed with a jumper on a steal by Garner, and with that basket the Owls had trimmed their deficit down to 15 with 2:45 to go in the third period. The Diplomats pushed their lead back up to 20, and despite a three-pointer from Harrison, that is where the margin would remain headed into the final frame.

The Diplomats scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter before Garner got another bucket in the post, this time on a beautiful hook shot. Martin continued to stay hot, as well, as another great pass from Harrison allowed the junior forward to knock down another jumper. The Paladugu sisters took over offensively from there, with Laya and Lipi combining to score Bryn Mawr's next 10 points in the game. With under a minute to go, Martin was fouled shooting a three-pointer, and she converted all three free throws to wrap up her 19-point performance. However, F&M had done just enough to keep the Owls at bay, with the Diplomats ultimately pulling away to their 75-50 win.

Bryn Mawr will be right back in action on Saturday to wrap up their "three-games-in-five-days" week. The Owls will travel to central Pennsylvania for a matchup against Gettysburg College, who are currently receiving votes in the WBCA Top 25 Coaches Poll. Gametime in Gettysburg on Saturday is slated for 2:00 PM.