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Overtime thriller highlights men's basketball team’s weekend action

McGonagill ’14 and Kuakumensah ’16 break school records for three-pointers and blocks

A weekend filled with tension, drama and late-game heroics boiled down to a split for the men’s basketball team. Columbia came back from an 11-point deficit Friday to beat the Bears by two with a pair of last-second free throws. Bruno took down Cornell the next night in a nationally televised game that went into overtime.


Friday: Columbia 70, Brown 68

In the first game of the two-day road trip, the Bears (14-10, 6-4 Ivy) traveled to the Levien Gymnasium to take on the Lions. Rafael Maia ’15 was sidelined by a shoulder injury, so Leland King ’17 made his second career start for Bruno.

The Bears jumped out to an early lead that grew to nine points when Steven Spieth ’17 sunk a hook shot. Spieth collected seven points and six rebounds on the night.

Columbia’s Meiko Lyles responded to Spieth’s pretty post move with a trey. The Lions’ ball movement often left Bruno scrambling and resulted in a number of open looks from downtown.

Columbia (17-10, 6-4) managed to knock down 9-of-23 from beyond the arc — better than most teams fare against Bruno — led by Lyles, who shot a perfect 5-of-5 from three-point territory.

A layup by Dockery Walker ’15 gave Bruno a one-point lead heading into the half. Walker has taken a backseat to King in the rotation in recent weeks, but with Maia out, the junior forward played 15 minutes and picked up nine points and five boards in his time on the court.

In the second half, neither team could build a lead. Walker hit a jump shot, extending Bruno’s advantage to four points with 12 minutes left in the game. But a dunk and a layup plus a foul gave Columbia a one-point lead just two minutes later.

With a minute left, the game was tied at 68. Spieth missed a trey that would have put Bruno ahead with just 18 seconds remaining. The Lions’ Maodo Lo collected the defensive rebound and was fouled by Spieth, after both players dove after the loose ball. With the Lions in the bonus, Lo sank both free throws to give Columbia a two-point edge with 14 ticks remaining.

On the other end of the floor, King missed a potential game-tying jumper. Walker collected the offensive board and the Bears quickly called timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Spieth inbounded with a long overhead pass to Sean McGonagill ’14. McGonagill tried to maneuver into a more manageable shot but was defended well and forced to chuck up a 30-foot prayer that fell short. The Lions came away with the win after scoring the last six points of the game.

Despite the loss, the Bears had a reason to celebrate in the middle of the second half. After handing the ball off to Tavon Blackmon ’17, McGonagill raced along the baseline past a screen by Cedric Kuakumensah ’16, received the ball from Blackmon and drilled a rainbow fadeaway triple. The shot gave McGonagill 233 three-pointers for his career, passing Damon Huffman ’08 on the all-time three-point list and making him the most prolific shooter in Brown’s history.

McGonagill finished the night with 20 points, five assists and two steals but could not will his team to victory. The loss to Columbia dropped Brown even further behind Ivy leaders Yale (14-10, 8-2) and Harvard (22-4, 9-1).


Saturday: Brown 81, Cornell 75

After nearly setting a career-high last weekend with 18 points against Penn, Kuakumensah shattered his previous mark with 30 points Saturday against Cornell (2-22, 1-9). King, again starting for the injured Maia, complemented Kuakumensah with a career-high 23 points of his own.

Both players began the game on fire and never cooled off. Kuakumensah netted Brown’s first ten points of the evening. King then dropped the next 12 for the Bears. The only points of the half not scored by the duo came on a McGonagill trey, which gave Bruno a one-point lead at the time.

Two Cornell players matched the Bears’ production. Nolan Cressler scored a game-high 34 points, 17 of which came in the first half. Devin Cherry added 17 points and 10 assists to Cornell’s totals.

With six minutes left in the half, Kuakumensah swatted a Cherry layup attempt. It was his fourth block of the game and his 67th of the year, breaking the season record of 66 that he set just a year ago. Kuakumensah finished the game with seven rejections, tying the Brown record for blocks in a game for the third time in his career.

Headed into the half, Cornell held a two-point lead. The second half was closely contested throughout, with neither team jumping out to a lead larger than four.

With under a minute remaining, Cressler hit two free throws to give the Big Red a two-point lead, 67-65. On the other end of the floor, Kuakumensah hit his biggest shot of the night — a layup, tying the game at 67. Cherry had a chance to win it for Cornell, but his shot was off the mark, and the game went to overtime.

In the extra period, Kuakumensah’s teammates came alive. Blackmon converted on three of four free throw attempts, and Spieth dropped in two layups — the second of which gave Brown a five-point advantage.

After two Cressler free throws, the Bears led 74-71 with 63 seconds remaining. McGonagill brought the ball up the court and, rather than killing time, fired a three pointer with over 20 seconds remaining on the shot clock. The shot swished through the hoop, icing the game for Bruno in dramatic fashion.

After driving back from Cornell and arriving home at 5 a.m., the Bears will have a chance to rest up before traveling to Penn and Princeton for their last road trip of the season. If Bruno wants to keep any hope of winning the Ivy League title alive, it will need to sweep both games next weekend.

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