The men's basketball team (6-12, 0-4 Ivy) continued the middle portion of a five-game road stretch by taking on Cornell (14-6, 4-0 Ivy) and Columbia (7-11, 2-2 Ivy) this past weekend. But Brown could not overcome the defending champion Big Red and the physical play of the Lions, losing both games.
Cornell showed it was a team on a mission to repeat its success from last season, handling the Bears, 90-58, and extending its conference winning streak to 18 games - now at 19 after a win over Yale on Saturday. Brown kept the Columbia game close throughout but could not pull away with the win, falling 65-59.
The Bears headed to Cornell in search of their first conference win, as they came out ready to play in the first five minutes, building up a 14-9 lead. Tri-captain Scott Friske '09 spear-headed the quick start, contributing six points and an assist during a 12-2 run early on. But the Big Red answered the Bears' hot start with a 14-0 run to build a comfortable lead, 23-14, with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
"At that point, they stepped up their intensity on defense, and we didn't match the intensity," Friske said. "When a team shoots as well as they do, it feels like every shot is going in."
The Bears found themselves down by a margin of 18 points shortly before the half, but Matt Mullery '10 stepped out from his normal position underneath the basket and canned a three-pointer with seconds remaining to close the deficit to 15.
Mullery scored 13 points in the first half to lead the Bears, while Cornell's Louis Dale, reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, added 13 of his game-high 23 points before the break.
The Big Red picked up right where they left off as they opened up with a 17-6 run, extending their lead to 57-31 with just under 14 minutes remaining in the game. They continued their domination of the Bears as they finished off the game with a 90-58 rout, including an impressive 54 percent from the floor and an 11-of-22 performance from behind the arc.
"Obviously Friday night we ran into a great team," Friske said. "For anybody to beat Cornell, they have to play great basketball - we didn't do that."
Tri-captain Peter Sullivan '11 led the way for the Bears with 15 points, to go along with four rebounds. Mullery, the Ivy League leader in field goal percentage, managed just one point after intermission to finish with 14, and a team-high six rebounds while Friske finished the game with eight points.
The Big Red held a 43-25 rebound advantage over the Bears, who, only one day later, out-rebounded Columbia by a margin of 42-25.
The Columbia game got off to a slow start as each team recorded one field goal in the first seven minutes of play. Ten minutes before intermission, Brown extended its lead to 12-6, the largest lead for either team in the first half. Adrian Williams '11 closed out the first half with a three-point field goal to put the Bears on top, 29-28.
"We had it in our mind that we weren't going to be out-rebounded," Friske said. "We need to learn how to sustain that effort throughout the whole game."
The Lions came out with a 24-9 run to open the second half, and led 59-46 with 5:11 remaining. Midway through the half, however, they got into foul trouble, and Brown put together a 10-1 run of its own to pull the game to within four. The Bears could not close the deficit as the Lions prevailed, 65-59, with some strong defensive stops and impressive free throw shooting in the game's final minutes.
Sullivan led the way for the Bears with a game-high 18 points and Friske put together a strong performance and had a double-double, with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Williams joined them in double digits with 12 points.
Mullery struggled down low as the defense converged on him and held the Bears' leading scorer to just eight points, seven below his season average, on 2-of-11 shooting from the field.
"We knew they were going to be physical, probably the most physical team in the League," Friske said. "We really wanted to pound the ball inside, but they buckled down."
The Bears will end their five-game road trip next weekend as they travel to Dartmouth (4-14, 2-2 Ivy) to face a team fresh off a win over Penn for the first time in 23 meetings, and Harvard (9-9, 1-3 Ivy), who owns a win over the Atlantic Coast Conference's Boston College.
"We have a group of guys capable of winning games," Friske said. "We're last place in the league and that is what it is. By no means are we going to go away."