M. basketball wiped out by Big Red

By
Monday, February 23, 2009

The men’s basketball team struggled this weekend to build on its first conference win, Feb. 14, over Princeton, as Columbia and Cornell each took a game from the Bears.

The Bears (7-17, 1-9 Ivy) fell to Columbia (11-12, 6-4 Ivy) Friday night at the Pizzitola Center by a score of 70-57. The Bears then suffered their second home loss in as many nights Saturday against Cornell (18-8, 8-2 Ivy), an 85-45 rout that the Big Red dominated from start to finish.

Poor outside shooting plagued the Bears throughout the homestand, as Brown shot 18 percent from behind the three-point line on the weekend, while its opponents shot better than 45 percent.

Columbia 70, Brown 57

In Friday’s game, the Bears couldn’t keep pace with Columbia’s hot shooting, falling by thirteen points.

Columbia outshot Brown 54 percent to 41 percent from the floor and 53 percent to 22 percent from three-point range. Columbia’s bench also out-scored Brown’s by an outstanding 45-1 margin, including 21 points from Patrick Foley and 14 from KJ Matsui.

Columbia guard Noruwa Agho, a starter, led all scorers with 27 points.

Mullery led the way for the Bears with 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting, also making 7-of-8 at the free throw line. Mullery also added four blocks, bringing his season total to 43. That set a new Brown record, surpassing Jaime Kilburn’s ’05 42 in the 2003-2004 season.

Sullivan followed close behind with 19 points, going 7-of-14 from the field. Adrian Williams ’11 joined the two in double figures with 10 points.

Brown jumped out to a quick early lead against the Lions but quickly fell behind trailed throughout the second half.

An early scoring spurt started the weekend strong for the Bears, as Matt Mullery ’10 scored four early points and Morgan Kelly ’11 connected on a three-pointer to put the Bears up 11-4 with 11:16 remaining in the first half. The game tightened but remained close midway through the period as both teams struggled to create shot opportunities at the offensive end.

But the Lions found their groove and finished the half on a 17-4 scoring run, breaking out of its offensive cold streak while Brown continued to struggle. Brown headed into the locker room down, 27-21.

“We went cold shooting the ball, but when that happens, we can’t give up runs like that,” Mullery said. “Guys are playing a lot of minutes, but we have to play well on both sides of the ball.”

The Bears scored the majority of their points in the paint in the first half, as the team could not find a shooting rhythm from the outside, going 12.5 percent (1 for 8) from behind the three-point line.

Columbia stayed in control after the break, scoring the first six points of the second half to take a commanding 33-21 barely a minute into the period.

Brown made a push to get back into the game, as a jumper by tri-captain Peter Sullivan ’11 brought the Bears within five, 45-40, capping a 7-0 run with nine minutes left.

But the Lions responded to Brown’s run with a 15-6 run of their own, and the Bears got no closer than nine points the rest of the way. The Lions built up their lead by shooting 65 percent from the floor and 5-for-8 from behind the arc in the second half.

Cornell 85, Brown 45

After a hard-fought loss on Friday, the Bears found themselves on the receiving end of a thrashing from defending Ivy League champions and current league leader Cornell.

Cornell over-powered a smaller Brown team by a rebounding margin of 48-29. Brown’s shooting woes also continued, as the Bears struggled to make shots, shooting just 14 percent from three-point range and 32 percent overall. Cornell made more than half its shots from the floor.

The Big Red put four players in double digits for the game, led by Foote with 16, Ryan Wittman with 15 and Louis Dale, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, who netted 12.

Sullivan led the way for the Bears with 12 points, and Mullery finished with 11. Co-captain Chris Skrelja ’09 played well all-around for the Bears, contributing six points, five rebounds and six assists.

Despite a hot start from Mullery, who scored 10 of the Bears’ first 11 points, Cornell pulled away early. By the time a Mullery lay-up put the Bears in double figures, the Big Red had already opened a 21-11 lead that they would relentlessly extend throughout the game.

With easy inside looks and dangerous outside shooting, Cornell built its lead to 44-27 by halftime, with forward Ryan Wittman going 3-for-3 from behind the arc in the first period.

“I got off to a good start, but they started collapsing, putting the pressure on, and forcing us to make outside shots,” Mullery said. “We just didn’t have a good weekend of shooting.”

With tri-captain Scott Friske ’09, a 6′-7″ forward, out of the lineup because of illness, the Bears gave up a lot of size against the Big Red’s seven-foot center, Jeff Foote.

Foote began the second half with two emphatic dunks, sparking a 10-0 run that blew the game open even further. Sullivan ended the drought with 15:38 remaining, but Brown failed to build any momentum.

With the team down by 30 with over ten minutes to play, Head Coach Jesse Agel emptied his bench. Nearly every player logged at least 15 minutes of play in the game, an opportunity to spread playing time among the young Brown squad.

The Bears second unit faired little better, and Cornell ultimately won by 40.

“We missed the leadership and floor presence of Friske,” Mullery said. “He’s played hard all year – it’s hard to go out there without him.”

The Bears have two more weeks of conference play remaining in the season. They will travel to Princeton and Penn for the season’s final road trip before returning home to celebrate their two graduating seniors, Friske and Skrelja, during a final homestand against Dartmouth and Harvard.