Sports

Men’s basketball team crushes Bearcats, fall to Friars in season opening week

Bruno’s ferocious second-half rally left the team just short against its cross-town rival

By
Sports Staff Writer
Friday, November 15, 2013

The Bears opened their season with a 74-57 victory over Binghamton University at home Sunday, before falling to Providence College 73-69 Wednesday in dramatic fashion.

Point guard Sean McGonagill ’14 led Brown to its resounding victory over the Bearcats (1-2), connecting on four of six three-point attempts on his way to a game-high 22 points.  Forward Rafael Maia ’15 pulled down nine rebounds and was Brown’s second leading scorer with 14 points.

After compiling a school record of 66 blocked shots last season, forward Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 picked up where he left off against Binghamton, swatting six shots to supplement 14 rebounds and nine points. The Bears saw significant contributions from rookie starters Tavon Blackmon ’17 and Steven Spieth ’17, who netted nine and six points, respectively. Fellow greenhorn Leland King ’17 came off the bench to add six points.

Wednesday’s showdown against Providence (2-0) was highly anticipated after the Bears’ stunning 69-68 victory at home last season, when Tucker Halpern ’13.5 nailed a last-second, game-winning three-pointer.

But at tipoff the rematch seemed destined for a vastly different outcome. The young Brown team appeared outmatched as the Friars jumped ahead to a 20-4 lead in the opening minutes. The Bears shot just 36 percent in the first period and trailed 44-30 at halftime.

“I didn’t see what we do every day in practice,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “I told our guys at halftime, we’re lucky to be down 14 the way we’re playing.”

Undeterred, Bruno marched back to tie the game midway through the second half as Providence’s offense went cold, and the Friars shot just four of 22 from the field in the first 13 minutes.

The two teams continued to trade baskets until the Friars nailed a three-pointer to take a 69-66 lead with 36 seconds remaining. After a missed lay-up, the Bears were forced to foul and Providence went up by five points with 20 seconds remaining, seemingly putting the game out of reach.

Unfazed, in the next Brown possession, McGonagill drained a clutch three pointer, putting the Bears within two points with less than 10 seconds on the clock.

“Credit to him, that was a huge shot,” said Friars forward Kadeem Batts, who finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds. “He’s obviously the leader of that team, and he hit a big shot for them.”

After a timeout, McGonagill managed to steal the inbounds pass and let fly a desperate three point attempt with three seconds remaining, but missed narrowly. The Friars sealed the 73-69 victory with two foul shots in the final second.

Following the tight victory, Providence Head Coach Ed Cooley praised the Bears for their perseverance.

“You have to give them a lot credit,” he said. “It’s one of those days where we didn’t play well, and they played well coming down the stretch on the road.”

Martin credited the team’s improved second half performance to a change in mindset.

“We realized that they have good players, and they’re well coached, but they’re human like we are,” he said. “In the first half, I’m not sure that was our approach.”

The Bears’ continue non-conference play with four consecutive road games, facing the University of the Sacred Heart (0-2), the University of Massachusetts Lowell (0-2), Longwood University (1-1) and Bryant University (1-1) before returning home Nov. 30 to face Central Connecticut State University (0-2).

Cooley echoed his respect for Brown’s program.

“Don’t take anything away from Brown,” he said. “They played a hell of a game. I’ll cheer for them every single game. I’m going to cheer for every Rhode Island team, except for when we play them.”