The men's basketball team defeated URI for the first time in over a decade Wednesday night, 65-56.
Though the matchup began with a question mark for the Bears (4-4), it ended with an exclamation point. Bruno entered the 153rd showdown between the two teams trailing 100-52 in the standings, with its last victory dating back to the 2001-02 season.
At the start of the game, URI (1-6) controlled the tempo, as the Bears were seemingly unable to handle the Rams' stifling full-court pressure and gargantuan size in the paint. But their problems seemed to dissipate over the course of the game, and with two seconds remaining Dockery Walker '14 slammed home an uncontested dunk to seal the Bears' nine-point victory.
"It's just a signature win," said Head Coach Jesse Agel. "We have some really good guys in our program, and they really had a chance to shine tonight. To beat URI, it just doesn't happen, so I'm really happy for our guys."
"No question, it was disappointing," said URI Head Coach Jim Baron. "It was the first time we've lost to Brown in 10 years. I told our guys coming in that this was like a backyard brawl for the state, and you have to put two halves together."
The Rams dictated the pace in the opening half, deploying a full-court press that forced five turnovers from Bears point guard Sean McGonagill '14. URI held a decisive rebounding advantage as well, pulling down eight offensive and 12 defensive boards compared to Bruno's two and 10, respectively.
But with one second remaining before halftime, McGonagill narrowed URI's lead to two points by splitting the Rams' defense and drilling a jump shot that was a harbinger of things to come.
In the second half, the Bears seized control, going on a 10-2 run and eventually pulling ahead by nine points with 11:52 remaining. The pressure that gave Bruno such difficulty in the opening period seemed to subside — McGonagill finished the half without a single turnover.
"Our biggest keys were to control the glass on the defensive end and handle their pressure, and I felt like we did a good job of that," said Stephen Albrecht '13.
Though the Rams ultimately held a 46-32 advantage on the boards, Agel said the stat sheet hardly reflected reality.
"We battled on the glass," he said. "I'm sure we got dominated if you look at the numbers, but I'm not going to look at the numbers, because I thought we really held our own. They might have had 20 more than we did, but it didn't feel that way."
Forward Andrew McCarthy '13 had a "phenomenal" game, Agel said. McCarthy earned a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds against URI's much larger frontcourt .
McGonagill led the team in scoring Wednesday night, finishing with 19 points on six of 14 shooting from the field and three of nine from beyond the arc.
Albrecht strung together his third impressive performance in a row, scoring 12 of his 17 points in the second half. He knocked down several shots for the Bears at key moments — overall, he went six of 11 from the field and five of 10 from beyond the arc. Albrecht led the team in scoring in its prior two games, finishing with 22 points against Monmouth Nov. 22 and 23 points against Sacred Heart Nov. 27.
"I love watching him play because he brings a little bit of an edge to us," Agel said. "He gets excited when he gets it going, and we really need to play with that enthusiasm and that emotion."
The Bears return to action Saturday when they face Iowa on the road in a formidable Big Ten matchup.