The men's basketball team picked up its first conference victory of the season this weekend, defeating Dartmouth 66-59 Friday night before battling No. 23 Harvard in a hard-fought 68-59 loss Saturday. The matchup with the nationally-ranked Crimson brought in a sellout crowd and a spirited atmosphere the likes of which the Pizzitola Center had not yet seen this season.
Brown 66, Dartmouth 59
The Bears' (7-14, 1-3 Ivy) matchup against the Big Green (4-16, 0-4) pitted two squads desperate for a conference win — both had gone winless in the opening weeks of Ivy play.Bruno jumped out to a 4-0 start, only to see its advantage slip away as Dartmouth seized the lead for the remainder of the opening half. The Big Green went into the locker room ahead, 33-28.In the second half, the Big Green stretched its lead to as many as eight points, but with 7:33 remaining in the game, the Bears roared back with a 20-5 run to secure the seven-point victory.
"Sometimes you live in bad luck, sometimes you live in good luck," said Head Coach Jesse Agel. "We just made one more play (Friday night), made one more shot."
Forward Andrew McCarthy '13, who has emerged as one of Bruno's most reliable forces on both ends of the court, was a major factor in the victory. McCarthy scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and set a new single-game school record with seven blocked shots.
"He's got a tremendous natural ability," Agel said. "I don't think Drew is a secret. He's being active and going out and getting stuff done, and that's the mark of someone who's having a great year."
But McCarthy relinquished most of the credit for his performance to point guard Sean McGonagill '14. Despite not scoring in the opening half, McGonagill, the team's point leader, finished with 11 points and 10 assists and orchestrated the key late-game run.
"Considering he was the rookie of the year last year, teams are really focusing in on him," McCarthy said. "Every time I set a ball screen, they were hedging out on him. He was able to dish the ball, and once I got it in my hands, I just tried to do the best I could."
Harvard 68, Brown 59
The Bears knew they were in for a challenge the following night facing Harvard (18-2, 4-0). The Crimson came into the weekend with a 16-2 record, including wins over Florida State, Utah and Boston College. The previous Saturday, Harvard held Dartmouth to only 38 points in a 16-point victory.
Nonetheless, Brown entered the game with confidence, buoyed by back-to-back wins and steeled by the knowledge of the teams' past two meetings. Despite losing both games last year, the Bears held double-digit leads at halftime in both matchups.
"We knew coming in we could play with these guys," said Matt Sullivan '13. "It's virtually the same Harvard team as last year where we were up (22) at halftime at their place and (11) at our place."
The two teams were neck-and-neck in the opening half Saturday night, and the Crimson held a slim 31-27 lead at halftime.
But in the second half, the Bears were unable to handle Harvard's offense. The Crimson led by as many as 15 points before sealing a nine-point victory.
Bruno displayed a balanced scoring effort, with all five starters finishing in double figures in points. McCarthy and Stephen Albrecht '12.5 led the team with 13 points apiece, and McGonagill and Dockery Walker '14 each pulled down seven rebounds.
One of the Bears' weaknesses was free throw shooting, as they finished just 11 of 20 from the charity stripe.
"We talked about defending the lines," said Harvard Head Coach Tommy Amaker. "We were lucky they didn't shoot free throws better."
The Bears will look to avenge their loss as they host two conference games this weekend. Bruno will square off against Princeton (10-8, 1-1) Friday at 7 p.m. and take on Penn (10-9, 2-0) the following night at 6 p.m.