Sports

Bears drop first two real tests at NIT

By
Assistant Sports Editor
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The men’s basketball team tipped off its season last week, defeating Johnson and Wales at home before suffering two losses against the University of Albany and Manhattan College on the road at the National Invitation Tournament Season Tip-Off Nov. 14 to 15.

Brown 86, Johnson and Wales 66

The squad opened Friday night with a tune-up against Division III Johnson and Wales and came away with an easy victory.

Point guard Sean McGonagill ’14 led the Bears with 22 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and three steals. Though only a sophomore, McGonagill has been a leading presence for the Bears since breaking into the starting lineup last year. He led the team in minutes per game last season and played 39 minutes Friday.

“Until they tell me I have to take him out, I’m not going to,” said Head Coach Jesse Agel. “He’s in great shape, and he worked hard to be able to put himself into that position. He had 20 and 10 tonight. For most people, that would be phenomenal, but he’s not satisfied with it.”

The Bears seized a 10-point advantage early and were able to cling to the lead for the duration of the game.

McGonagill said he was proud of the squad’s ability to maintain its composure on opening night despite having only one senior and being plagued by seniors on the Johnson and Wales team.

“I know I was nervous my first game, and I came out a little jittery, so I’m sure there were some freshmen jitters,” he said. “But they really hustled and played as hard as they could, so I’m hoping for the best.”

Tyler Ponticelli ’13 scored a career-high 17 points and had a team-leading seven rebounds. Jean Harris ’12, the Bears’ lone senior, returned to the team after a year and a half hiatus from basketball and was the third-leading scorer Friday with 11 points.

Albany 77, Brown 68

The Bears hit the road Monday for the NIT Season Tip-Off at Syracuse’s Carrier Dome and fell to Albany 77-68.

Bruno slipped behind early and trailed 41-29 by halftime. Despite cutting the Great Danes’ lead to five with under four minutes remaining, the Bears could not overcome the deficit.

“We went down early, and we just kept fighting back,” said Matt Sullivan ’13. “We were in a close game at the very end, so I was proud of everyone for not giving up.”

Sullivan led the squad with a career-high 26 points, coming on 8-of-18 shooting from the field, 5-of-9 from beyond the arc and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.

“We were just trying to find a way to stay in the game … — just so happened that I was making shots,” Sullivan said. “I was just thankful shots were going in, and it gave the team a chance.”  

Manhattan 54, Brown 52

Bruno returned to action the following night against Manhattan, coming out on the losing end of a close matchup.

The two teams were neck-and-neck all night. Though the Jaspers led 30-27 at halftime, the Bears took a one-point lead with just under three minutes left. Manhattan regained the advantage after sinking two free throws late in the game, but Bruno was unable to capitalize on its opportunities to pull ahead in the closing minutes.

“We just couldn’t catch a break,” Coach Agel said. “The bottom line is, if any of our last three shots go in at the end of the game, we win and we’re looking at things a little bit differently.”

Dockery Walker ’14 scored 12 points to become the third Bear in three games to lead the team in scoring. The squad spread the ball around on offense, and McGonagill finished with 11 points and Ponticelli and Sullivan added 10 apiece.

“Anyone could lead the team in scoring,” Sullivan said. “We’ll see going forward if someone emerges as leading scorer, but I don’t doubt that we could have new leading scorers each game.”

The Bears return to action at home Saturday to face Hartford at 5 p.m.

The squad must await the results of the rest of the NIT Tip-Off games to learn where they will be playing in the tournament’s consolation round Nov. 21 to 22.

“The first road trip is always tough, especially with new guys on the team that haven’t experienced it yet,” Sullivan said. “It was a longer trip, and we usually don’t play back-to-back games at the same place. I definitely think we will be more prepared going into the next round.”