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Williams ’11 helps m. hoops excommunicate Holy Cross

Friday, November 21, 2008

The men’s basketball team finished its three-game opening road trip to start off the season with a 62-57 win over Holy Cross on Wednesday night and an 89-52 loss to George Mason on Monday. The win over Holy Cross gives Head Coach Jesse Agel his first career win at Brown.

Adrian Williams ’11 was unable to play in the George Mason game because of an ankle injury he incurred at Sunday’s practice in Fairfax, Va.

He was back in the lineup against Holy Cross, however, where he made an offensive and defensive impact in the game. Williams scored a career-high 16 points, and his 7 steals were the second-best single-game performance in the history of the program.

“We were happy to have him back,” Agel said. “He’s a very consistent player for us. We hope he has more double-digit scoring nights for the team.”

Brown and Holy Cross played neck-and-neck throughout the entire game, with each team holding advantages of no more than ten points.

In the first ten minutes of play, the Crusaders held a 14-12 advantage over the Bears before pulling away with a 6-0 run, taking a 20-12 advantage. Bruno responded with its own 6-0 run and eventually went up 27-24 in the final minutes of the first half. The momentum shifted back in favor of Holy Cross as they finished out the half on a 7-0 scoring run. Brown headed into the locker room down 31-27.

To start the second half, the Crusaders continued their offensive push as they scored eight of the game’s next 10 points to distance themselves from the Bears, 37-29.

In a game of offensive attacks, the Bears reeled off eight straight points of their own to tie up the game.

With six minutes left in the game and the Bears down 49-45, Brown put together its strongest offensive push of the game, going on a 12-0 scoring run to take the lead for good.

“We didn’t shoot as well from the outside in the second half,” Agel said. “But we did move the ball inside-out well, finding some open looks. We found some open areas one trip, that weren’t there the next. I give credit to Holy Cross and their zone defense.”

Tri-captain Chris Skrelja ’09 connected on a three-point basket with 4:35 remaining to spark the offense on its run. In a matter of two minutes, Matt Mullery ’10 laid in 2 of his game-high 18 points; Williams tallied another trey; and Tri-Captain Scott Friske ’09 finished off the scoring run with a basket, putting the Bears up 57-49.

Brown extended its lead to 60-51 after Mullery sank two foul shots with 1:10 left to play. Skrelja kept his defensive intensity up in the game’s final 30 seconds, as he came up with two steals to put the game away for the Bears, 62-57.

“It was a battle to get every rebound,” Mullery said. “It came down to our level of toughness – getting loose balls and minimizing their possessions to one shot. We kept rebounding, especially in the second half.”

Mullery has made an excellent contribution to the offensive side of the ball this year, as he has led the Bears in scoring, both in the URI game with 22 and in the Holy Cross game with 18.

Tri-captain Peter Sullivan ’11 turned in another solid scoring effort with nine points and five rebounds. Skrelja finished with seven points, four boards and four assists on the night. Chris Taylor ’11 provided a strong contribution off the bench with six points and a team-high six rebounds.

“We played together on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball,” Williams said. “We played aggressive inside and out. When we went on our 12-0 scoring run, we played more intense defense and limited our turnovers. That helped us get back into the game and win it.”

The Bears did not fare as well in their match against George Mason on Monday night. George Mason is just two seasons removed from a Final Four appearance and fresh off a Colonial Association Championship.

The Patriots scored most of their first half points (35 of their 39) from outside the lane, mostly off the dribble. In the second half, however, they scored 31 of their 50 points in the paint, mostly on fast-break lay-ups.

George Mason out-shot Brown for the game, connecting on 36 of 66 field goals (55 percent), while Brown was held to 19 of 52 (36.5 percent) shooting from the floor.

Sullivan led the Bears with 15 points and 8 rebounds. Morgan Kelly ’11 scored a career-high 11 points. Skrelja joined Sullivan and Kelly in double figures with 11.

“The younger players are obviously working very hard,” Agel said. “We look for more contributions from younger players every game.”

The Bears open up a three-game homestand starting on Saturday when they take on Northwestern at 7 p.m. at the Pizzitola Center.

“Playing a BCS school is a tall order,” Agel said. “They’ll be at full strength this year. We’ll have our hands full and then some.”

Last season, Brown traveled to Illinois to take on the Wildcats and pulled away with a strong 73-67 road victory against the powerful Big Ten conference foe. Very rarely do large BCS schools travel to a smaller school, but Agel said Coach Bill Carmody knows it is important to establish these ties. Carmody coached at Princeton for 18 seasons, his last four as head coach, before heading to Northwestern.

“We know they’re mad from when we beat them on their home court a year ago,” Williams said. “It’s great to have a Big Ten team playing at Brown. We’ll try to be ready for whatever they bring at us on Saturday.”

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