The men’s basketball team split its last two games, beating Sacred Heart University 69-56 Thursday night but falling 63-50 to the University of New Hampshire Saturday afternoon.
Brown 69, Sacred Heart 56
Playing at home in Meehan Auditorium, Bruno (3-4) had to contend against the Pioneers’ (2-4) zone defense during the majority of the game. But the Bears had prepared for this strategy and were “patient and poised” against it, said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04.
By working the ball around the perimeter, Bruno was able to finish the first half with a 31-27 advantage despite 10 lead changes. Co-captain Sean McGonagill ’14, who had a team-high eight assists, said he worked to feed his teammates the ball because he noticed they were shooting well.
“It was a really big team effort and everyone worked really hard,” McGonagill said. “I was really happy with how our guys came out, and it was an important game to hold on to during the stretch.”
Forward Rafael Maia ’15 played a large role in the team effort, recording 19 points and a career-high 15 rebounds. Maia said the team’s strong rebounding helped them in “controlling the tempo of the game.”
“Maia’s a big, strong physical player,” Martin said. “He’s more than capable of scoring when he gets the ball.”
In the second half, Bruno outscored Sacred Heart and opened up the largest lead of the game, 61-45. While the men played well, Maia said the team could have “defended a little better.”
This was the team’s first home victory this season, but Martin said regardless of location, it felt good to “have the win, period.”
“When you get a chance to be successful, winning is great,” Martin added. “So whether that’s here or on the road, it’s a good feeling to come off the court with.”
New Hampshire 63, Brown 50
Traveling up to chilly Durham, N.H., the Bears were unable to begin the game with the intensity they needed.
“I didn’t think we were ready to play in the opening,” Martin said. “We didn’t have the same energy and focus that New Hampshire had.”
In the game’s opening minutes, Maia and Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 were penalized with two personal fouls apiece. Maia said the Wildcats had “really aggressive defense,” so he and Kuakumensah weren’t able to “play the game” they wanted.
“Any time you get foul trouble, it disrupts the flow of your individual game,” Martin said. “But that’s not why we lost the game.”
The Wildcats opened up a 34-20 lead during the first half, but the Bears managed to claw their way back into contention, finishing the half behind by only three points. Less than five minutes into the second half, Bruno took its first lead of the game, 37-34.
“Sacred Heart dictated the game they wanted,” Maia said, though he noted that the Bears were able to react well.
Martin said the team missed some “pretty good looks,” adding that the players didn’t have the stamina they needed after spending so much energy taking the lead.
With 12:17 remaining, the Wildcats went on a 24-8 run to erase the Bears’ advantage. Describing the second half collapse, McGonagill said there are some games where “it’s going to go your way” and some games when it’s not.
“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t go in,” Martin said.
The team will now travel to South Bend, Ind., where it will play Notre Dame Saturday. The Fighting Irish improved their record to 7-1 after beating No. 8 Kentucky Thursday. Martin said Notre Dame is “extremely well-coached” under Mike Brey and have a number of “offensive weapons.”
But Maia was optimistic. “Our mindset is just to practice really hard this week,” he said. “And go, as we go to every single game, to get a win.”