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Men’s basketball regular season ends in loss to Penn

Bears defeat Tigers but fall in winner-take-all game against Penn, eliminated from Ivy contention

The men’s basketball team edged Princeton Friday but fell in a winner-take-all showdown against Penn Saturday, eliminating the Bears from the conference race and sending the Quakers to the Ivy League Tournament. Brown battled Penn in a tightly contested game, but Bruno’s 22 turnovers doomed the team in a 58-51 loss. The Bears’ offense struggled in their most important game of the year; Brown shot 34 percent from the field and produced their second-lowest scoring output all season.

Despite failing to qualify for its first ever Ivy League Tournament berth, Bruno (19-11, 7-7 Ivy) capped off a successful regular season — its 19 wins tied the highest win total in program history.

“We’ve made great progress,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “I’m proud of what we accomplished, despite how things went (Saturday).”

The Bears will return four of five regular starters next year including scoring leader Desmond Cambridge ’21 (15.7 PPG) and rebounding leader Tamenang Choh ’21 (8.7 RPG). Still, Brown will have to find a way to fill the roles held by graduating seniors Obi Okolie ’19, Travis Fuller ’19 and Chris Sullivan ’19.

Brown dominated Princeton (16-11, 8-6) for most of Friday’s game, taking an early lead on a Cambridge three-pointer that it would never relinquish. The Bears extended their lead to eight at halftime, and to 13 with just two minutes left in the game. The Tigers made a valiant comeback effort, as three treys in the final two minutes helped them cut the Brown lead to two. But a crucial layup from Choh late in the contest allowed Bruno to hold on for the 67-63 victory. Brandon Anderson ’20 came off the bench to lead the Bears with 21 points.

“It was a really good defensive effort,” Okolie said. “Turnovers and steals led to better offense for us.”

Following their win over Princeton, Brown headed to Philadelphia for a decisive matchup against Penn (19-11, 7-7). In the first half, both teams struggled to build momentum in a hard-fought, low-scoring affair. The Quakers jumped out to a 10-4 advantage, but an 8-0 Bears run stretching over four minutes put Bruno in front. The Ancient Eight rivals traded blows for the remainder of the period, and a dunk from Joshua Howard ’20 tied the teams at 27 heading into the break.

Penn finally got their offense going in the second stanza, racing out to a 35-27 lead just three minutes into the half. But Brown regrouped and responded, quickly pulling ahead 40-39 thanks to back-to-back threes from Cambridge and Okolie. The Bears and the Quakers stayed locked within a few points as the half continued, and Penn led 54-50 with six minutes remaining.

But the Bears’ offense shut down for the rest of the game and Brown could only muster one point in the final six minutes. With none of Bruno’s shots falling, Penn held on for the 58-51 win. Penn’s AJ Brodeur, Devon Goodman and Jake Silpe did most of the damage against the Bears, as the trio combined for 51 of Penn’s 58 points.

“We turned the ball over too much both games,” Martin said. “I think we could have executed better on offense.”

Okolie agreed that Brown’s offensive struggles and turnovers prevented them from defeating the Quakers.

“We knew it would be a big game. … Sometimes we got a little frantic,” Okolie said. “Maybe you could attribute that to the intensity of the game.”

Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Penn advance to the 2019 Ivy League Tournament. Though the Bears’ loss eliminated them from NCAA Tournament contention, Brown still hopes to be selected for a postseason competition, such as the College Basketball Invitational or the Postseason Tournament.

“Whenever you get the chance to keep playing basketball, you take advantage of it,” Choh said.

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