The men’s basketball team topped Holy Cross Monday for its first win of the season, but fell to Niagara Wednesday to end the week with an even 1-1 mark.
After a season-opening road loss against St. Peter’s, Bruno (1-2) opened its home slate Monday night, cruising to a 71-55 win against the Crusaders (1-1).
Strong performances from veterans Cedric Kuakumensah ’16 and Steven Spieth ’17 drove the Bears’ offense. Kuakumensah broke double-digits in scoring in the first half alone, putting up 11 points, while Spieth added nine on 4-of-4 shooting from the field, including a make on his only attempt from beyond the arc. JR Hobbie ’17 contributed off the bench with two threes in the first 20 minutes. Bruno carried a slim 35-32 lead into halftime following a back and forth opening frame.
But then Brown squandered the halftime lead, letting up a 7-1 Holy Cross run to begin the half before the Crusaders went cold from the field, leading to a 14-2 swing in Bruno’s favor.
In the end, key contributions from the bench and Holy Cross’ tough shooting night made the difference. The Crusaders shot just 26 percent from the field and went 0-for-7 from behind the arc in the second half.
Hobbie continued his hot night from three, knocking down another pair of big shots in the second half. He finished with 16 points for the night, leading all Brown scorers. Also coming up big was newcomer Corey Daugherty ’19, whose 13 points added to the total of 31 from the Bruno bench.
Tavon Blackmon ’17 emphasized how a robust bench will be crucial for the team going forward.
“We have a lot of depth at the guard position especially,” Blackmon said. “Guys like (Hobbie), (Daugherty) and Travis (Fuller ’19) can really help us off the bench and give us a spark.”
Spieth and Kuakumensah were key for the Brown defense as well, as both brought down double-digit rebounds. Both would finish with double-doubles: Spieth had 11 points and a career-high 14 rebounds, while Kuakumensah added 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Blackmon dished out a team-high eight assists.
Unfortunately for the Bears, they found themselves on the other end of a bad shooting night when they squared off with Niagara (1-2) on the road Wednesday night.
Brown trailed by eight at the half and relied on Kuakumensah and Hobbie heavily again. Niagara’s Matt Scott, who led the Purple Eagles offensively all night, put up 10 in the first half.
Despite pulling within one possession with 13 minutes remaining, Brown’s shooting woes proved to be too much to overcome. Bruno hit only 30 percent of its shots from the field and went 8-for-29 from three on the night.
But Blackmon believed factors beyond their offensive struggles contributed to the loss. “We shot the ball poorly, but we just didn’t defend,” he said. “Not shooting a great percentage plays a huge part in our loss, but there’s other things we could have done that could have helped us.”
Scott’s 13 second-half points gave Niagara the needed boost to close out Brown in the final minutes, lifting his team to a 75-66 win.
Kuakumensah and Spieth both turned in solid performances despite the loss. Kuakumensah had 10 points and 11 rebounds, posting his third double-double in as many games. His three blocks put him just nine short of the all-time Ivy League career record of 252. Spieth contributed with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Bruno will now turn its attention to cross-town rival Providence, an NCAA tournament qualifier for the past two seasons. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Saturday. In an upset, the Bears defeated the Friars last season.
Blackmon said the team is maintaining its normal routine in preparation for the Friars. “We’re treating it like it’s a regular game. We’re not putting too much into it,” he said.