The men’s basketball team finds itself a game out of first place in the league after a weekend of mixed results. Bruno dropped its first meeting of the season with Harvard 52-45, but recovered from the stinging loss to push past Dartmouth 75-62 the following night.
Harvard 52, Brown 45
Bruno (12-8, 4-2 Ivy) had an opportunity to take control of the conference entering their battle against Harvard (18-4, 5-1). But the Crimson’s defense proved too strong for the Bears, stifling Bruno’s attempts at scoring throughout the game in front of a Harvard crowd of over 2,000 fans.
Ivy Player of the Year frontrunner Wesley Saunders and the Crimson held the Bears to a measly 27.3 field goal percentage. Brown was the eighth team to be held under 40 percent from the field this season by the Crimson, who are now 8-0 when holding opponents below that mark.
“I thought Saunders did a good job,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “We got dump down passes for layups, but we didn’t convert. We convert on those most of the time — but you also have to credit their defense.”
Harvard’s forwards did not allow Bruno any easy layups, swatting eight shots. Steve Moundou-Missi led the team with three blocks to go along with his eight points and nine boards.
“They’re very well-schooled defensively,” Martin said. “Their big guys are really active, and they protect the rim well.”
The game remained close for much of the first half as both teams struggled to find any offensive rhythm. Officials were constantly stopping play — 12 fouls were called in the first 10 minutes.
With 13 minutes remaining in the half, Rafael Maia ’15 was hit in the face under the basket. Maia immediately started bleeding and was forced to leave the game. After a quick visit with the trainer, Maia returned to the game with a bandage around his forehead, still managing to collect seven rebounds and four points in 33 minutes.
“One of their players tried to block my shot but missed it and hit me with his elbow,” Maia said. “After the game I got a few stitches, but I was glad that I could keep playing.”
Harvard managed to pull away in the last few minutes of the half to take a six-point lead into the intermission.
Coming out of the break, the game was highlighted by two scoring runs, the first by Harvard. The Crimson started the half on a 9-0 run, coming off a couple layups and a trey. Bruno answered right back on an 18-8 stretch to cut the lead to five.
At the final media timeout, Harvard clung to its five-point lead. A pair of free throws from Tavon Blackmon ’17 reduced the lead to three, but two missed layups and a travelling violation on the Bears sealed the team’s fate. Harvard dribbled the clock out, handing the Bears just their second conference loss.
Brown 75, Dartmouth 62
The Bears, fueled by the loss to Harvard, came out firing against Dartmouth (9-11, 2-4). Bruno took a 17-3 lead in the first six minutes, with eight of the 17 points coming from Steven Spieth ’17.
Spieth “was aggressive in looking for his offense early,” Martin said. “He’s a capable scorer who took advantage of what Dartmouth gave him.”
The Big Green battled back into the game, pulling within five of the Bears late in the first half. But Bruno boosted the lead to nine before the halftime buzzer sounded.
The Bears’ 42 first-half points nearly matched their total of 45 against Harvard. Leland King ’17 made his first career start in place of Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 — who came off the bench after arriving late to a team breakfast — and collected seven rebounds and a block in the first half.
The second half of play yielded a similar result to the first, with Bruno leading for its entirety. Dartmouth pulled within five at one point, only to see the lead blown back to 13, a run capped off by a three-pointer from co-captain Sean McGonagill ’14.
McGonagill, who struggled against Harvard, found his stroke against the Big Green, connecting on 4-of-9 from behind the arc. He added two rebounds and two assists to his best performance since Bruno took down Cornell earlier this season.
Spieth also had a productive game, using a 11-of-13 night from the free-throw line to net a career-high 20 points. His four steals and five rebounds should put the reigning Ivy Rookie of the Week in contention for a second consecutive reception of this award.
“I had a more aggressive mindset (than usual),” Spieth said. “I think when I can add scoring to my game, we’re going to just be that much better. I was able to get into the lane and draw contact, and guys were really looking for me in the post against the smaller Dartmouth guards.”
The Bears held off any attempts at a comeback from Dartmouth to win their fourth of the last five Ivy League games. Twenty-seven of the Bears’ 75 points came from the charity stripe, an aspect of their game that has been lacking all season. Bruno also collected 46 rebounds, improving on their league-leading 41 boards per game.
Bruno will return home next weekend to face Penn (6-13, 3-2) and Princeton (13-6, 1-4). The matchups offer the squad an opportunity to catch Ivy leaders Yale (11-9, 5-1) and Harvard in the standings.