The men's basketball team (2-3) went 1-2 this week, getting a victory over Maine after almost pulling out a comeback win against a tough Big East opponent.
URI 78, Brown 57
The Bears and Rams battled neck-and-neck through the first half of their Wednesday night game at the Pizzitola Center.
Forward Peter Sullivan '11 carried the offense in the opening minutes, scoring the first eight points of the game, and giving the Bears an early 8-5 lead. Andrew McCarthy '13 also provided offense early on, as he sank two free throws after an offensive rebound, and then stuffed a thunderous dunk through the net to give Brown a 14-11 lead.
Toward the end of the first half, URI capitalized on a string of missed field goals by the Bears, and went on an 8-0 run to grab a 27-20 lead. But Bruno fought back before the first-half buzzer, helped in part by three-point shots by Adrian Williams '11 and Sullivan.
Brown went into the locker room down one point, 31-30, and Sullivan felt great about the teams' first-half performance.
"The first half was the best half of basketball we played all year," he said.
The tide turned in Rhody's favor in the beginning of the second half. A three-point play by guard Keith Cothran gave the Rams a 44-36 lead with about 15 minutes remaining, their biggest lead of the game up to that point. From then on, URI would extend its lead to 63-40 with a devastating 19-4 run, capped by three consecutive dunks that came off Brown turnovers. It was a huge swing in the game, one that silenced the student section and put the game out of reach for Bruno.
"We kind of lost our cool a little bit, and we weren't very composed bringing the ball up the court," Sullivan said. "They got a lot of quick steals, and started getting momentum."
Cothran scored a game-high 16 points, while Sullivan led all Brown scorers with 15.
St. John's 79, Brown 76
The Bears then traveled to New York for a Philly Hoop Group Classic match-up Friday night. Bruno almost upset its Big East opponent, but a potential game-tying three-pointer by Williams did not fall in the final seconds.
Brown mounted a significant comeback in a hostile environment. Down 71-58 with under seven minutes remaining, Bruno went on a 16-4 run to cut it to a one-point deficit, capped by Tucker Halpern's '13 three-pointer. Another jumper by Halpern would again bring the Bears within one point of the Red Storm, 77-76, with 41 seconds left in the game. That would be the closest the Bears would get, as St. John's guard Malik Boothe sank two free throws to push the lead to 79-76.
Despite the disappointing result, Bruno forward Christopher Taylor '11 was impressed by his team's comeback effort.
"We executed really well and kept pushing even though they made a couple runs," he said. "A few guys really stepped up for us in the second half."
Sullivan, who scored 12 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, agreed.
"We came out very strong in the second half, so it was definitely a very good game for us," he said. "Unfortunately, we missed a (game-tying) three at the end. They're a big and physical team, but we almost got the win."
Brown 75, Maine 62
Sunday afternoon, back home at the Pitz, the Bears broke through and earned their second win of the season over the Maine Black Bears.
The first half of the match-up played out similarly to the Bears' last home game. Sullivan again controlled the offense in the early stages, scoring the first five points of the game for Bruno. But Maine would fight back against Brown, and the teams would go back and forth, exchanging baskets until intermission. The Bears struggled with their long-distance shooting, hitting only two of 11 three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. A lay-up by Maine forward Murphy Burnatowski with seconds remaining gave Maine a two-point advantage, 34-32, heading into the break.
The Bears came out with a renewed determination in the second half, and connected on a barrage of threes to pull away from Maine. Treys from Matt Mullery '10, Jean-Herbert Harris '12 and Sullivan helped extend the Brown lead to 57-48 midway through the second half.
While Maine would cut the Brown lead to 62-57 minutes later, strong free-throw shooting in the final minutes, especially from guard Steve Gruber '10, helped Brown secure the victory with a final score of 75-62.
Mullery led all scorers with 24 points, and Sullivan chipped in 20 on four-of-eight shooting from behind the arc. McCarthy led the Bears with six rebounds, and contributed 10 points in a solid performance. For the Black Bears, guard Junior Bernal starred with 18 points on eight-of-15 shooting.
Taylor downplayed any differences in strategy between the URI and Maine games.
"Not a whole lot changed for us, we played a different team with a different style," he said. "We executed well against Maine."
Sullivan predicted an improved performance before Sunday's match-up.
"We got to learn from our past games," he said. "I think we've improved a lot over the past week, and it'll be nice to get home looking for a win."
The Bears did indeed go home, and found a way to get that victory.
Brown will finish the Philly Hoop Group Classic this weekend at the Palestra in Philadelphia, facing the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia on Friday and Siena on Saturday.