The men’s basketball team returned home after a five-game road trip, competing against Ivy foes last weekend, beating Columbia and losing to Cornell. The Bears (9-13, 3-5 Ivy) hit big shots at the end of regulation to down the Lions (10-12, 2-6) in dramatic fashion. Bruno came close to coming back against the Big Red (13-12, 5-3), but could not surmount a double-digit first-half deficit. Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for his performances, scoring a career-high 19 points against Columbia and grabbing 19 rebounds against Cornell.
Brown 58, Columbia 55
Co-captain Matt Sullivan ’13 led the Bears with 27 points and five steals to help Bruno snap a three-game losing streak in Ivy League play. Sullivan was recently named to the Capital One Academic All-American First Team, putting him in the company of Indiana University’s Cody Zeller and Duke University’s Mason Plumlee. This is Sullivan’s second straight year receiving the recognition.
Bruno held its own against the Lions early, as a triple from Sullivan, with six minutes to play in the first half, brought the lead within one to 18-17. But the Lions made a 13-3 run to close out the half and took a commanding 31-20 advantage into intermission.
“It’s something we’ve done all year. We go down, but we never stop fighting,” Sullivan said. “Even if we don’t play well in the first half, we don’t let it bother us in the second half.”
The Bears slowly chipped away at the deficit in the second half, thanks to consistent scoring from Sullivan and Kuakumensah. Aside from an early layup by Rafael Maia ’15, the pair scored all of Bruno’s second half points.
“The defensive effort in the second half, led by Tyler Ponticelli (’13) and Cedric Kuakumensah, was the reason we won the game,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04.
The Bears took a late lead as Sullivan hit a trey with ten seconds remaining to put his team up 56-55. Kuakumensah came up with a big defensive rebound after the resulting Lions’ possession and was intentionally fouled, sending him to the line. The first-year knocked down both free throws to cement Bruno’s victory, 58-55.
“He’s a joy to coach, he’s humble, he works hard, he asks all the right questions,” Martin said of Kuakumensah. “He’s already a good player for us, and he’s going to get better and better.”
Cornell 69, Brown 66
Kuakumensah continued his strong play, scoring 13 points and nabbing an impressive 19 rebounds — notching Bruno’s only double-double of the night. Finding themselves in an early hole, the Bears could not complete the comeback against the Big Red despite chances towards the end of the game. The loss snapped Bruno’s six-game home winning streak.
The Bears kept up with the Big Red for most of the second half and only trailed 24-20 after a layup from co-captain Sean McGonagill ’14. But Cornell went off on a 16-9 run that included three triples to put the Bears in a 40-29 hole at halftime.
“It’s tough to (fall behind early) two nights in a row,” Sullivan said. “We have to do better in the first half so we don’t put ourselves into that hole and have to dig out of it later.”
The Bears slowly cut into Cornell’s large lead, following their pattern from the previous night, thanks to some sharp shooting from McGonagill and buckets in the paint from Maia and Kuakumensah. Bruno came within one after Sullivan netted back-to-back threes to bring the score to 57-56.
The teams swapped buckets in the final five minutes, and a big shot from McGonagill brought the Bears within two. After a Big Red free throw, the Bears had a chance to tie with an outside attempt from Stephen Albrecht ’13, but the shot rimmed out and Bruno fell 69-66.
The Bears will host Harvard (15-7, 7-1) on Friday and Dartmouth (6-16, 2-6) on Saturday before taking a two-game road trip next weekend.
“I expect two tough games,” Sullivan said. “Both teams won some games last weekend, and I expect them to come in and play hard, so we’ll need to play well if we want to win.”