Sports

Second half, free throw line struggles down men’s basketball

First half leads insufficient as Brown remains two games out of necessary spot for post-season berth

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, February 13, 2017

After splitting its road double-header last weekend, the men’s basketball team hosted Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday, hoping to creep up the Ivy League standings with a few weeks before the conference’s inaugural postseason tournament. But despite leading in both games at the half, the Bears (11-13, 2-6 Ivy) struggled to finish off the Crimson (14-7, 6-2) and the Big Green (5-16, 2-6), falling 87-74 and 77-74 respectively.

Heading into its first matchup of the weekend against Harvard, the Bears were well aware of the magnitude of the game, which marked the halfway point in conference play. Sitting at sixth in the Ivy League standings, the Bears needed a few wins to keep pace with the top of the conference.

“Overall, the energy was extremely high,” said co-Captain and starting guard Tavon Blackmon ’17. “The guys came in ready to play, and for the most part we played well.”

Bruno started off strong. While the lead changed hands multiple times in the first half, four of the Bears’ starting five put points on the board, and Bruno led 35-32 after the first 20 minutes. Starting forwards Travis Fuller ’19 and co-Captain Steven Spieth ’17 each contributed eight points and a rebound. Guard Obi Okolie ’19 added nine points of his own, including an emphatic dunk as he was fouled just before the eight-minute timeout, which helped swing the momentum in favor of the Bears going into halftime.

“The first half is an example of how we can always play,” Blackmon said, adding that the team “had some really good possessions during that stretch.”

The Bears maintained this energy as the second half began, building an 11-point lead over the Crimson by the 13:09 mark. But the Bears struggled to continue their high-energy offense throughout the half. The Crimson rallied on the back of a 23-point effort from freshman Bryce Aiken, who Bruno struggled to stop as the half wore on.

By 9:05, Harvard had erased the deficit entirely, and with only 3:25 remaining, the Crimson built an 11-point lead of its own, from which the Bears could not recover. When the final buzzer sounded, Harvard had taken the game 87-74. The Bears struggled from the free throw line down the stretch, shooting only 62.1 percent.

Bruno had trouble finishing scoring chances in the second half, Blackmon said. “We just didn’t capitalize off of our opportunities,” he said.

Brown had only 24 hours to regroup and rebound before an evening game against Dartmouth Saturday. But from the gun, the Bears responded well. Like the previous day’s matchup, Brown enjoyed scoring from an array of players in the first half. Co-Captain JR Hobbie ’17 and guard Corey Daugherty ’19 both hit pivotal three-pointers off the bench, while all of Bruno’s starters contributed points. At the end of the first half, the Bears led 36-32.

But once again, finishing off the opponent proved difficult for Bruno. Dartmouth’s Evan Boudreaux scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and added 13 rebounds to help the Big Green build a 74-69 lead with only 2:43 remaining. Bruno closed the lead with 1:18 to go, tying the game at 74. But after Dartmouth sunk a 3-point dagger with 55 seconds left, the Bears could not respond and fell 77-74.

“That was a tough loss,” Blackmon said. “Overall we played solid, but we just really have to close those games and find a way to get the win. We are a really good offensive team and have been playing solid on defense for the most part.”

Moving forward, Brown hosts Penn Friday and Princeton Saturday. Despite taking two losses to their conference record, the Bears are tied for fifth place and two games behind fourth-place Columbia in the Ivy League standings with six conference games remaining.

“I just want us to continue to fighting and working hard as a whole,” Blackmon said.