M. hoops comes up just short against Yale

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Monday, January 26, 2009

For the second consecutive weekend, the men’s basketball team (6-10, 0-2 Ivy) went up against Yale (7-9, 2-0), and once again, the Bulldogs from New Haven came away with the victory. Friday night’s game was close throughout, with the Bears eventually falling by two, 57-55.

Despite the final outcome, the contest saw an improved effort from Brown’s previous game against Yale, when the Bulldogs outscored the Bears by 10 in the second half en route to an 80-72 win.

“We executed a little better and just played a little harder in general this time,” said Tri-Captain Scott Friske ’09.

The Bulldogs led throughout the first half, but Brown stayed competitive, keeping Yale’s lead to eight points at its highest. With five minutes to go in the first half, Yale was leading 26-19. But with an 8-2 run, including four points off the bench from guard Steve Gruber ’10, Bruno was able to cut the deficit to 28-27.

Center Matt Mullery ’10 paced the Bears’ offense with 10 points in the first half and finished with a game-high 22 points, along with a team-high nine rebounds and a game-high six blocks.

Ross Morin led Yale with 11 first-half points and finished with 20 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

After a basket by Yale to open up the second half, Adrian Williams ’11 drained a three-pointer to tie the game for the first time that night. The Bulldogs got their lead back to 34-30 until lay-ups by Williams and Mullery on back-to-back possessions tied the score once again.

The two squads continued to trade baskets and with 11:39 remaining Williams connected on another trey to give the Bears their first lead of the game at 39-37.

“We executed our offense well, and whenever they’d go up, we’d keep making plays to stay in the game,” Friske said.

Williams went 4-of-5 from the field on Friday, including a 3-of-4 mark from three-point range, and he converted all five of his free throw attempts to finish with 16 points. Williams currently leads the Ivy League in free throw percentage at .905, and his .449 three-point field goal percentage is second in the league.

The second half saw seven ties and two lead changes, with neither team leading by more than six at any point. The Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run to build a 53-47 lead with 3:09 left to play, but again the Bears were resilient as Mullery scored on back-to-back possessions to cut Yale’s lead to two points with 2:05 remaining.

Yale expanded its lead to 57-51, but Mullery connected on a pair of free throws and Friske came up with a steal and converted a lay-up to bring the Bears back to within two points.

Friske played a solid all-around game, with six points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists.

With 18 seconds remaining, Friske fouled Yale’s Porter Braswell, who missed both of his free throw attempts, giving Brown a golden opportunity to tie or win the game, but the Bears were unable to get off a final shot, and the Bulldogs eked by with the win.

“Everybody was really disappointed with the loss, because we really left everything out on the court,” Friske said. “But we can’t hang our heads, we have to move on to our next game.”

Following his performance on Friday, Mullery leads the Bears with season averages of 16.3 points and 1.9 blocks per game. He is currently fourth in the Ivy League in scoring and second in blocks.

Next weekend, the team will travel to New York in search of their first Ivy League win under first-year Head Coach Jesse Agel. On Friday night, the Bears will take on a strong Cornell team (12-6, 2-0 Ivy) that includes forward Ryan Wittman, who leads the Ivy League with 19.6 points per game, and seven-foot center Jeff Foote, the league’s leading shot-blocker. Then on Saturday, Brown will play Columbia (5-11, 0-2 Ivy).

“We’re going to have to be solid for 40 minutes. Even in games that we’ve won, I don’t think we’ve done that yet,” Friske said. “Coach has stressed that we need to focus on being consistent.”

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