Sports

Men’s basketball brings home one win, one loss

Ivy League leading scorer McGonagill ’14 guided the Bears in both games

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, December 2, 2013

The Bears came out of Thanksgiving break with mixed results, falling to Bryant University 70-67 Wednesday before topping Central Connecticut State University 72-61 Saturday.

While most of their classmates fled campus for the holiday, the members of the men’s basketball team lingered on College Hill for two matchups — a sacrifice senior guard Sean McGonagill ’14 said gets easier as you grow older.

“It’s something that the (first-years) especially have to get used to because they’re dealing with the transition of not being able to go home and not seeing their family as often,” he said. “But for me, I’m used to it. I haven’t really been able to go home for breaks in a while.”

Entering the first matchup of the break, Bruno (5-2) was riding a three-game winning streak with wins over Sacred Heart University, University of Massachusetts at Lowell and Longwood University. But in their fifth consecutive road game, the Bears saw their winning streak snapped in a narrow 70-67 loss to cross-town rival Bryant (5-2).

The two teams were neck-and-neck in the first half, and Bryant held a one-point lead at halftime. The Bulldogs came out of the locker room strong in the second half and claimed a 12-point lead with 15 minutes to play. Though the Bears managed to battle back within two points with less than a minute remaining, the deficit proved insurmountable in the end.

McGonagill led the squad with 18 points, while forward Rafael Maia ’15 added 16 points and eight rebounds. Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 finished with 12 points and seven rebounds to go along with three blocked shots.

“Any time you’re playing with as many young guys as we’re playing with, there are going to be challenges no matter where you play,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “We just have to get into the mindset of expecting to win every time we play, no matter where it is.”

The Bears returned home Saturday to face Central Connecticut (1-5) and snuck out with a 72-61 victory. Bruno fell behind early after shooting just 39 percent from the field in the first half, and the squad trailed 31-27 at halftime. In the second half, however, the Bears found their groove, shooting 57 percent from the field and outscoring the Blue Devils 28-12 in the opening minutes of the half.

“In the second half, we came out with more energy,” McGonagill said. “We played a lot stronger on defense and got the stops we needed to win.”

The difference between the two halves came down to confidence, Martin said.

“We have some pretty good players on our team, and when they play with confidence and they execute, we’re going to be pretty good offensively.”

McGonagill was once again Bruno’s top scorer with 18 points. The senior continues to lead the Ivy League with a 19.4 point per game average.

“He’s obviously the focal player (for the opponent) in every game we play,” Martin said. “That’s been true since the first game we played, and it continues to be true. He’s done a great job of being efficient without forcing the issue and just letting his opportunities come.”

Maia added 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Blue Devils, while Dockery Walker ’15 and Leland King ’17 contributed 10 points apiece.

The Bears return to action on the road Dec. 7 to face American University before coming home Dec. 10 to take on SUNY Albany.  The squad will open Ivy League play after the holiday season on the road Jan. 18 against Yale.

“Everything we do is geared towards hitting our peak in early- to mid-January when we start our Ivy League season,” Martin said. “So we’re building towards hopefully becoming a really good team by that time.”