Unable to contain its opponent’s explosive offense, the men’s basketball team fell to cross-town rival Providence College Saturday night at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
“It’s always a nervous game for us because we haven’t played well against Brown since I’ve been here,” said the Friars’ Head Coach Ed Cooley, who has led his program since 2011. “I’m pretty sure I have the worst winning percentage in the history of Providence College basketball against Brown. I’m the most excited guy in the room with this win.”
Before Saturday evening’s meeting, the Bears (1-3) had upset Providence (3-0) to win two of the teams’ last three meetings. While Bruno maintained its regular preparation during the week’s practices, the Friars made certain not to underestimate the Bears in anticipation of the squads’ 122nd meeting.
“Sometimes we can overlook an opponent,” Cooley said. “And I think quite frankly we’ve done that in the past. I promise you we weren’t going to overlook it tonight.”
The game’s opening minutes demonstrated Bruno’s strength from behind the arc. The Bears managed to get on the scoreboard first with a three-point basket from Justin Massey ’18, but the Friars responded with a trey of their own just seconds later.
A pair of threes from Jason Massey ’18 and another from his brother propelled the Bears to an 11-8 advantage over the Friars in the early going. The first five minutes of the game proved to be the most highly contested, with three lead changes and two ties. But Bruno’s lead was short-lived and ended up being its last of the contest, as the Friars used an 18-5 surge to establish a 10-point edge and take control of the game halfway through the first stanza.
With three minutes left in the half, a layup from Tavon Blackmon ’17 brought the Bears within five points of their opponent, but the guard’s efforts were not enough to get his team out of the hole. As the horn sounded to end the first half, Bruno headed to the locker room with a 45-35 deficit.
Unfortunately for the Bears, the Friars dominated the second half. After the intermission, Providence mounted a 13-3 run to further distance itself from the Bears and double the deficit to 20 points.
Cooley attributed the Friars’ success to their ability to control the pace of the game.
“We really worked on the pace we wanted to play at,” he said. “Today was really the first time this year that we played” the way the team wanted to, he added.
The Friars were able to get many of the shots that they wanted and eventually secured a 28-point margin — the largest of the contest — with just over three-and-a-half minutes left to play. The deficit proved too significant to overcome in the time remaining, and the Bears ultimately fell to the Friars 94-73.
Despite the loss, the game saw standout performances yet again for some of the team’s newest members. Justin Massey and Travis Fuller ’19 each contributed 12 points in the contest. Fuller also led the team on the glass with six rebounds.
The Bears will look to bounce back with a midweek contest against New Hampshire Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Pizzitola Center.