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M. hoops shocks Princeton

Sports Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Steve Gruber ’10 is a backup point guard who averages just four points a game. But in the waning seconds against Princeton on Saturday night, his record was irrelevant. Gruber sunk two clutch free throws with eight seconds remaining, helping the Bears (10-17, 4-6 Ivy) grab an upset victory over the title-contending Tigers (16-7, 7-2). The night before, Brown avenged a heartbreaking home loss to the Penn Quakers (5-18, 4-5) with an 80-73 away victory at the Palestra.

Brown 80, Penn 73
Despite falling behind early, 18-15, Bruno’s hot shooting propelled them to a dominating 26-7 run to close out the half and give the Bears a 41-25 halftime advantage.

Penn’s competition shot up in the second half. A 7-0 Quaker run cut the Bears’ lead to 51-44 in the opening minutes, but Bruno responded with a 9-2 run of their own to push the score to 60-46.

But just like they did in the matchup between Brown and Penn at the Pizzitola Center earlier this season, the Quakers kept hanging around. A press defense disrupted the Bears’ rhythm and got the Quakers right back in the game. A three-pointer by Penn forward Jack Eggleston — the man who scored the controversial game-winner in the first meeting — brought Penn within four points, 73-69, with just over a minute remaining.

On this night, though, the Bears did not relinquish their late-game lead.

“I think we just didn’t break down mentally this time,” said Garrett Leffelman ’11, who scored a career-high 18 points on the night. “We hit more free throws down the stretch, which really closed the door.”

Brown 57, Princeton 54
Bruno got off to a sluggish start inside Jadwin Gymnasium on Saturday night. Three quick turnovers resulted in a 7-0 Princeton lead only three minutes into play. The Tigers dominated inside throughout the half and scored 14 points in the paint to Brown’s six on their way to a 30-24 halftime lead.

“We felt like we didn’t play our best half against Princeton,” Leffelman said. “We knew that we could win the game.”

The teams battled neck-and-neck from the start of the second half. A three-pointer from Peter Sullivan ’11 broke one of 12 tie scores, and gave the Bears their first lead of the half, 42-39, with 11:35 remaining. But the lead was short-lived, as Princeton guard Dan Mavraides connected on his own trey to tie the score again, 42-42.

Bruno grabbed the lead for good on a Sullivan lay-up with 3:30 remaining. In the final sixty seconds, Brown relied on steady free throw shooting to seize the victory, highlighted by Gruber’s clutch pair of shots with under ten seconds to go.

“Two big shots for Steve,” Leffelman said. “It’s big for a senior to step up like that. Those free throws were two of the biggest of the season.”

Princeton guard Douglas Davis missed a jumper after Gruber’s foul shots, sealing the Bears’ impressive away victory.

“We definitely have more momentum after this good weekend,” Leffelman said. “We’re looking forward to playing both Harvard and Dartmouth and hopefully keeping our momentum going.”

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