After falling to Penn 70-62 on Friday, the men's basketball team toppled first-place Princeton, 75-65, handing the Tigers their first loss in Ivy League play.
Penn 70, Brown 62
Bruno first faced the Quakers (11-12, 5-4 Ivy League) Jan. 29, losing in overtime, 80-78. The loss came one day after the Bears' (10-14, 3-7 Ivy League) captain and leading scorer and rebounder, forward Peter Sullivan '11, injured his shoulder against Princeton. Sullivan returned to the Bears' lineup for the first time in three weeks Friday night for the rematch against the Quakers. Wearing protective padding on his shoulder, Sullivan led the team with 16 points in 25 minutes of play in the loss.
"After getting up and down the court a couple of times, I started feeling like my old self again," he said. "I practiced all week, so I was just trying to get my wind and my timing back. The shoulder felt fine, but obviously a game is different than practice. I was rushing stuff a little bit, so I had to get used to the flow of the game."
Sullivan currently ranks ninth on Brown's all-time scoring list, and despite the loss, Head Coach Jesse Agel was glad to see him back on the court.
"I'm extremely happy that he was able to get back and be in the last six games of his career," Agel said. "He's had a great career, and I'm thrilled that he has the opportunity to finish his career on the court instead of on the bench."
Despite Sullivan's notable performance in his return, the Bears were unable to hold off the Quakers. Bruno had a difficult shooting night, finishing at 39 percent from the field and 30 percent from three-point range. After pulling ahead 51-50 with just under five minutes to play, the Bears were unable to convert from the free throw line on several opportunities to hold on for the win.
"We didn't shoot the ball well enough to win the game and we didn't make our foul shots when the game was in the balance at the end," Agel said. "We've got to step up and make those plays, and we're just struggling to do that. I think our guys are playing hard enough to win. We're just not making enough plays to get it done."
Brown 75, Princeton 65
"We'll see how it goes tomorrow," Agel said minutes after the Bears' loss to the Quakers. With Sullivan back in the lineup, the Bears seemed greatly improved. But with top-ranked Princeton (20-5, 8-1 Ivy League) as their next matchup, there were no guarantees as to how Sullivan would perform in back-to-back games.
Putting all questions to rest, Sullivan exploded against the Tigers, scoring 26 points and grabbing eight rebounds in 36 minutes of play to help hand Princeton its first loss in the Ivy League. The Bears joined then-number one ranked Duke University and then-number 19 ranked University of Central Florida in beating the Tigers, becoming the fifth team to defeat the Tigers this season.
"I'm coaching a special group of guys who have persevered through a lot of tough luck this year," Agel said. "Our captain hasn't been with us for the last three weeks. … To come back and play as much as he did tonight shows you how special he is, how important he is to our program and how much he was missed this season."
While everything seemed to be going right for Bruno on Saturday, Princeton struggled on nearly all fronts. The Tigers had trouble scoring throughout the night, shooting 4-21 from three-point range. Defensively, Princeton had difficulty stopping the Bears from penetrating the lane, and after the Tigers racked up fouls early in the game, Bruno was able kick the ball out and shoot 44 percent from beyond the arc.
"You miss some shots, you turn it over some times, but you have to come down and get stops," said Princeton Head Coach Sydney Johnson. "We didn't knock it down, and defensively we were tragic tonight."
One notable factor in Bruno's win was its ability to maintain the lead down the stretch. Against the Quakers and in several games prior, the Bears have been unable to convert from the free-throw line, watching leads slip away and small deficits grow larger. But against the Tigers, the team shot 93 percent from the line, including a perfect 16 of 16 from Sullivan, who earned Ivy League Player of the Week for his performance over the weekend.
"We played well the whole game," Sullivan said. "We've been getting off to really good first halves, but we haven't been able to sustain it the whole game. The whole season, whenever the other team gets a run we kind of falter a little bit. We let up, and we kind of fold as a team. Today, we didn't do that."
Another player who had an impressive showing throughout the weekend was point guard Sean McGonagill, who tied Sullivan's game-high 16 points on Friday and was the second-leading scorer the following night with 16 points. He has been a consistent driving force for the Bears, and, as the team's leading scorer in league play, he earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the third consecutive week.
Despite earning 20 stitches before the Feb. 4 game against Columbia and still wearing a protective face mask, McGonagill has repeatedly shown his willingness to sacrifice his body by taking charges and diving for loose balls.
Nonetheless, he still managed to play 38 minutes against the Quakers and left the game against the Tigers only once, with 28 seconds remaining.
"Sean's playing to win, doing a little bit of everything — all the gutty, tough things good players do," Agel said. "He's done it night in and night out. I took him out at the end just so he could get a chance to see the game from the sideline for the first time in a long time. Anyone who wants me to take him out — it ain't happening because I enjoy watching him play too much."
The Bears return to action this weekend as they host Harvard Friday night at 7 p.m. and Dartmouth the following night at 6 p.m.