This weekend was supposed to be all about Brown's two seniors. But it was the opposing teams that ended up celebrating on the Bears' home court both Friday and Saturday night. The Cornell Big Red (27-4, 13-1 Ivy) clinched their third-straight Ivy League title with a 95-76 victory, and the Columbia Lions (11-17, 5-9 Ivy) defeated Brown, 65-56, sending Matt Mullery '10 and Steve Gruber '10 home without a win on their last weekend as collegiate players.
Cornell 95, Brown 76
Cornell is ranked first in the nation in three-point shooting percentage, and they showed that against the Bears. In the first three minutes, the Big Red jumped out to a 9-0 lead on threes from forward Jon Jaques and guard Chris Wroblewski.
But the Bears were not fazed and hung in the game with some sharpshooting of their own. Garrett Leffelman's '11 jumper from beyond the arc closed the deficit to five, 14-9. Another three-pointer by Peter Sullivan '11, who finished with a game-high 23 points, gave Bruno its first lead of the game midway through the first half.
Cornell responded, continuing to drain jumpers from all corners of the court on its way to a 47-36 lead with 4:10 remaining. For the half, the Big Red shot an astounding 11 of 16 from three-point range. But again, Brown stormed back, cutting Cornell's halftime lead to four, 51-47. Brown entered the locker room with an impressive statistic of its own, shooting 16 of 27 — 59 percent — from the field.
"It was a sensational first half," said Head Coach Jesse Agel. "Our guys were tremendous."
The game turned around in the opening minutes of the second half. Cornell continued its hot shooting, and Brown was unable to stay with the Big Red. A 14-4 run by Cornell — again marked by threes from Jaques and Wroblewski — extended the lead to 63-51 with 16:30 remaining.
"We have a ton of shooters," said Jeff Foote, Cornell's center and reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year. "If they all get hot at the same time, it's real tough to stop."
Those shooters carried the Big Red to a comfortable victory in the second half. Foote and his teammates received the Ivy League trophy after the final buzzer, to the delight of the Big Red fans who had made the trip to Providence.
Columbia 65, Brown 56
On Senior Day, both Mullery and Gruber made their presence known on the court. After the pre-game ceremony honoring both players, Gruber joined Mullery as a starter and logged five assists in 28 minutes. Mullery — who had three rows of family and friends in the stands wearing red-and-black "Mullery #45" T-shirts — scored 19 points, and passed Russ Tyler '71 P'00 P'02 for 16th on Brown's all-time leading scorer list with 1,134 career points.
But the Bears could not grab the victory. Both the Bears' and the Lions' players looked sluggish throughout the game, with the exception of Columbia senior forward Niko Scott, who drained six three-pointers on the way to a game-high 22 points. Brown trailed by three, 26-23, at halftime, and ultimately lost by nine.
Regardless, the Pizzitola crowd gave Mullery a standing ovation as he left the court for the final time with 6.2 seconds to go, a fitting end for his memorable career spent manning the paint for Brown.