The gravity of a men’s basketball upset against Yale was not lost on either team during Friday night’s matchup. Last week, the Bulldogs won the rivalry game on their homecourt and have won eight of the last 11 meetings at Brown, in addition to leading the historical series 111-53. So Bruno took to the tip with a chip on its shoulder intent on adding to its win column. But despite the added motivation to eclipse Yale’s dominance, the Bears fell short in a 73-62 loss to the defending Ivy League champions.
Brown and Yale traded buckets and fouls back and forth during the opening minutes. Neither squad settled into a flow, but both teams provided continuous defensive pressure.
The Bulldogs’ man-to-man made Bruno work for each field goal. All five players moved on a line during rotations and got hands in passing lanes. Brown had careless, often unforced turnovers on top of offensive mistakes forced by Bulldog pressure. Yale was unable to capitalize off its opponents’ mistakes, but turnovers would later cost Brown as the game progressed. Bruno ended the half with 10 turnovers andone assist.
“(Turnovers) definitely played a part in us being down,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “Every time, it was just one less opportunity for us to try and make a basket and put points on the board.”
Defensively, the Bears also played man-to-man and got hands on passes. They clogged up the paint to stop drives, which forced Yale to kick out. Bruno scrambled out to cover the ball, but Yale passed to either side for the more open man. Brown’s sluggish rotations repeatedly left a Bulldog open for shots. Inconsistent Bulldog shooting prevented Yale from fully taking advantage of Brown’s defensive lapses.
Successful shots proved difficult for both teams because of the defensive pressure causing strings of missed shots. But Tamenang Choh ’21 scored back-to-back buckets that brought life back to Bruno and sparked a run that pulled the Bears within two points. Choh would finish the game with 12 points and three assists.
“I had just got off the bench,” Choh said. “It’s good to see the game on the (sideline) because it slows down a little bit. So I knew what moves were probably going to work and thankfully (they) did (and started) a run.”
But every time the Bears went on a run, Yale managed to make a timely steal and head the other way for easy points. This back-and-forth sequence wrapped up the first half with Yale leading 33-25. Martin’s message to the team going into the half was to “continue to defend at the level we were, take better care of the basketball (and) get better ball and body movement in the second half.”
The second half opened with a 5-5 scoring battle during the first four minutes. Neither team had particularly flashy buckets due to their high intensity defenses, but the Bulldogs did just enough to stay comfortably in the lead.
“Watching the second half, we played with great pace, shared the ball, spaced the floor and made the right decision more often than not,” Martin said.
Runs and lulls came and went for Brown as it struggled to find consistent play. Brandon Anderson ’20 kept Brown within striking distance with bank shots in traffic and pull-up jumpers over defenders. Anderson finished the night with 20 points and six assists.
The Bears’ efforts weren’t enough to top the defending Ivy League champions, as they fell by an 11-point margin. Brown finished with 17 turnovers compared to Yale’s 16, and both teams were evenly matched across the board. But Bruno’s 35 percent field goal shooting could not compete with Yale’s 45 percent.
“I gotta be tougher,” Anderson said. “We gotta be tougher. We could’ve done more down the stretch and throughout the whole game.”
“We didn’t make shots at the rate that I expect us to,” Martin said. “We missed shots that I think we would normally make. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in the basket and it didn’t go in (Friday) night. That was the difference in the game.”
With the defeat, Brown dropped to 0-2 in conference play. They hope to break into the win column against Cornell Friday and Columbia Saturday at the Pizzitola Sports Center.