M. hoopsters score first Ivy win

By
Wednesday, February 18, 2009

After a devastating 73-52 loss to Penn (7-13, 3-3 Ivy) on Friday night, the men’s basketball team (7-15, 1-7 Ivy) bounced back the following night, earning its first Ivy League win under new Head Coach Jesse Agel in an upset 61-43 win over Princeton (9-10, 4-2 Ivy).

Penn 73, Brown 52Friday’s matchup with Penn was an emotional game for both sides. Brown was coming off two narrow losses the previous weekend, 63-61 to Dartmouth and 64-63 to Harvard, while Penn had lost back-to-back Ivy League home games for the first time in 41 years, according to the Daily Pennsylvanian.

To add to the tension, three starters for the Bears – Matt Mullery ’10 and tri-captains Chris Skrelja ’09 and Scott Friske ’09 – were former recruits of Penn Head Coach Glen Miller, who held the head coaching job at Brown through the 2005-2006 season.

“It’s always difficult when we play against players I recruited,” Miller said. “They’re good guys, which is why I recruited them, so I want to see them do well, but I also want to win.”

Early on, Tyler Bernardini had the hot hand for Penn, leading the Quakers with 13 first-half points en route to a game-high 16. Adrian Williams ’11 kept the Bears in the game with his hot shooting, as he went off for 15 points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, including three treys, in the first half.

Two free throws from Williams tied the game at 21 with 7:04 remaining in the first half, but the game quickly began to slip away from the Bears. The Quakers finished the half from that point on with an 18-8 run, including seven points from guard Harrison Gaines in the last 3:08 of the half.

“They played at an extremely fast tempo, and they had great guards who pretty much blew by us at will,” Agel said.

In the second half, the Quakers’ offense continued to click, as Gaines and guard Zack Rosen ran the motion offense to perfection to build a 20-point lead, 56-36, with 9:52 left to play. As the Penn defense clamped down on Williams, Brown struggled to generate any offense. Mullery, the Bears’ leading scorer on the season, was held to just 12 points, while tri-captain Peter Sullivan ’11 managed just seven points and Friske and Skrelja made just one field goal each.

“We struggle when people get in our face, because we don’t have a lot of guys who can create off the dribble to get shots for themselves or for other people,” Agel said. “We also didn’t cash in on free throws, and we just looked rattled on the floor.”

Brown shot 11-for-21 from the charity stripe, while shooting just 34 percent from the floor, and Penn cruised to a 73-52 victory.

Brown 61, Princeton 43

On Saturday, Brown opened with three-pointers by Williams and Mullery on back-to-back possessions to take an early 6-0 lead, but a 19-8 run gave Princeton a 19-14 lead with 4:49 left in the first half. Treys from Mullery and Morgan Kelly ’11 gave the Bears a one-point lead, and at halftime the score was knotted at 21. Mullery led the way with 12 points in the first half, and finished with a game-high 19, along with six assists and four blocks.

After the slow first half, in which Brown shot just 38 percent from the floor and attempted only two free throws, the offense was operating on all cylinders in the second half. The Bears came out of the locker room and put together a 17-3 run in the first nine minutes of the half to take a 38-24 lead. During the run, Sullivan, who was held to a single point in the first half, scored six points, while Williams hit a pair of treys and Mullery continued to make his presence felt in the post, adding five points.

Free-throw shooting was key for the Bears, who shot 14-of-19 from the line in the second half. Sullivan led the offensive effort for Brown in the second half with 12 points, including 7-of-9 free throws, to finish with 13 points. Skrelja had a solid all-around game as well, chipping in with nine points and a team-high nine rebounds, while Williams knocked down three treys to finish with 11 points.

The Bears also protected the ball, committing only nine turnovers, well below the team’s season average of 14.7 turnovers per game.

Brown will try to carry its momentum into Friday night’s game against the Columbia Lions (10-12, 5-3 Ivy), who defeated the Bears, 65-59, in the first meeting between the teams. Then, on Saturday, Bruno will take on first-place Cornell (17-7, 7-1 Ivy), looking to avenge a 90-58 loss at the hands of the Big Red on Jan. 30. Both games will be at 7 p.m. at the Pizzitola Center.