Sports

Men’s basketball outpaces Penn, falls to Princeton in weekend split

J.R. Hobbie ’17 leads Bruno with 21 points in forceful takedown of Quakers

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, March 2, 2015

Tyler Williams ’18 went 1-of-2 shooting from the line against Princeton. The Bears’ momentum was stymied Saturday against the Tigers, who dominated every facet of play and downed Bruno on Senior Night.

The sharpshooting of J.R. Hobbie ’17 carried the men’s basketball team over Penn 75-69 Friday, but Princeton left Bruno with its fourth consecutive weekend split by dealing the team a decisive 80-62 defeat.

Rafael Maia ’15, co-captain and the Ivy League’s second leading rebounder, suited up for the final game of his storied four-year career at the Pizzitola Center. His fellow seniors Jon Schmidt ’15, Longji Yiljep ’15 and Dockery Walker ’15 have each chipped in valuable contributions at different points over the last four years. Joe Sharkey ’15 was honored as well, though he was unable to play due to an injury.

The split drops the Bears (13-16, 4-8 Ivy) into sole possession of seventh place, where they will likely finish unless they have a surprising final weekend.

Brown 75, Penn 69

Bruno finished a season sweep of the Quakers (7-18, 2-9) with Friday’s win, and if there was one common denominator in the two victories, it was Hobbie. Penn clearly had not learned its lesson from two weeks ago, when Hobbie drained five three-pointers in Bruno’s win at the Palestra. The sophomore gave them a refresher course Friday, knocking down six treys and leading the team with 21 points.

Three of Hobbie’s treys fell in the first five minutes, and Bruno raced out to a 17-5 lead. The advantage grew to as large as 17 on a Jason Massey ’18 layup with two minutes left in the first half, and Bruno’s potent attack took a commanding 41-28 lead into the locker room.

Bruno continued to push the lead early in the second half until a 20-7 Penn run threw the game back into question.

Penn All-Ivy point guard Tony Hicks, who was relatively quiet offensively two weeks ago and suspended for both of last weekend’s games, used the second half to remind the Ivy League what he can do. Hicks scored 16 points and racked up three rebounds, three assists and two steals all in the final 20 minutes of play. With the help of two treys from Sam Jones and 11 critical points from first-year Quaker Antonio Woods, Hicks led Penn all the way back to within four, 71-67, in the final minute.

But Bruno’s offense was too dynamic, and the team stymied Penn’s wild comeback attempt. In a crucial stretch with three minutes to play, Woods and Jones each hit treys, but first Tavon Blackmon ’17 and then Hobbie answered with a three-pointer apiece.

“We always get a lot of shots — we were just hitting them,” Blackmon said.

Head Coach Mike Martin ’04 called Bruno “a different team” when Hobbie’s shots are falling, and the guard’s success certainly spread to his teammates Friday. Blackmon is not usually known as a perimeter shooter, but he poured in three treys in a 16-point effort.

“I was trying to catch up to J.R.’s six, which is why I kept shooting,” Blackmon joked after the game.

Maia and Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 capitalized on the extra room created inside to score a combined 28 points.

Three-point success — the team ended the game shooting 9-of-16 — and an 18-11 advantage in points from the line enabled the Bears’ offense to hold off the Quakers’ late storm.

Princeton 80, Brown 62

The Tigers (13-14, 6-5) did not allow Bruno’s momentum to show up Saturday, souring its Senior Night with a decisive blowout. Princeton blitzed the Bears from the start, and the game was never close.

The Tigers started the game on a 12-2 run, most of which came against an unorthodox starting lineup that included seniors Yiljep, Schmidt and Walker alongside usual starters Maia and Blackmon. Princeton then racked up a 17-6 run later in the half, scored a tremendous 43 first-half points and led by 14 at the break.

“We were being reactive and not proactive,” Maia said of the defensive struggles.

The second half brought more of the same, as a 13-0 Tiger streak effectively squashed the Bears’ hopes of a Senior Day win. The Bruno offense sputtered in the absence of floor general Blackmon, who was kneed in the quad against Penn and experienced tightness against Princeton that sidelined him for nearly the entire game. Steven Spieth ’17, who led the team with 17 points, was the only Bear to find much success.

All of the Tigers’ runs displayed their incredibly balanced attack and crisp passing. Steven Cook, Henry Caruso and Spencer Weisz broke double-digits to lead the team, but eight Tigers finished with six or more points.

It was a blowout across the board, with the Tigers besting Bruno in field goals, three-pointers, free throws, rebounds, assists, steals and turnovers. The lead ballooned to as much as 29 before the Bears finished on a 22-11 run to make the final score a little easier to swallow.

“That wasn’t any fun, and Princeton deserves a lot of credit,” Martin said. “They’ve got multiple guys that can dribble, pass and shoot at a high level. They are unselfish, and they move the ball.”

Solid Senior Night performances from Bruno’s eldest players provided bright spots in the bleak game. Walker was energetic inside, scoring 10 points and grabbing five rebounds. Maia was as impactful and consistent as usual with nine points and nine rebounds. In his rare minutes, Yiljep went 2-of-3 from the field, and crowd favorite Schmidt made a nice post move and sunk a shot in the final minute for his second basket of the season.

“It was very emotional for me. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t get the result that I wanted for my last game here,” Maia said. “I love Brown.”

Blackmon’s injury forced Martin to rely on first-years, which created passing-of-the-torch lineups filled with seniors and first-years. Patrick Triplett ’18 had one of the best games in his rookie campaign, compiling seven points, five assists and just one turnover while filling in at point guard.

Triplett said he felt more comfortable than he had early in the season, so he thought he “should be a little aggressive.”

Blackmon said he will certainly return for Bruno’s final weekend of the season, and the Bears will need him. The squad hits the road this weekend to face conference-leading Harvard and red-hot Dartmouth.