The men’s basketball team rallied from 11 points down in the first half against Penn Friday to dominate the second half and emerge with a 75-63 road victory. But the Bears failed to make another comeback against Princeton Saturday, falling behind by 13 at halftime and eventually losing 73-54. With its 1-1 weekend, Bruno remains in the thick of the Ivy League playoff race, trailing leaders Yale and Princeton by one game apiece. Brown sits in a three-way tie for third place with conference rivals Penn and Harvard.
Brown 75, Penn 63
Brown (12-9, 5-3 Ivy) entered Friday’s matchup looking to exact revenge on Penn (13-8, 5-3) for the teams’ previous meeting — in the final game of last year’s regular season, the Quakers defeated the Bears to eliminate them from Ivy League Tournament contention. Bruno got its redemption, riding the hot shooting of Brandon Anderson ’20 (31 points) and Zach Hunsaker ’20 (21 points) to a 12-point win.
Jaylan Gainey ’22 made his presence known from the outset of the game. The 6 foot 9 inch forward scored Brown’s first two buckets — both put-back dunks.
“(Gainey) is growing by the day,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “He’s really contributing to our team and we’re excited about how he’s played to this point and his potential going forward.”
Despite Gainey’s early contributions, an accurate start from Penn’s Jordan Dingle got the Quakers out to an early lead. Dingle made three treys in the first half, all of which came during a 17-4 Penn run that put the Quakers ahead 21-10 just ten minutes into the contest.
Brown struggled from beyond the arc in the first half — the Bears did not make a three-pointer until Hunsaker converted one with 42 seconds left in the period. On the half’s final possession, Anderson was blocked on a layup, but sank the second-chance shot with two seconds remaining. The baskets by Hunsaker and Anderson sent Bruno into the locker room with a deficit of just six and momentum on its side.
“(Anderson and I) feed off each other,” Hunsaker said. “I love seeing (Anderson) get going … it gives me confidence to also be aggressive.”
Hunsaker found his shooting stroke as the second half began, knocking in a jumper for the first score of the stanza, then tying up the game on a three two minutes later. A jumper by Anderson gave Brown its first lead since the opening minutes, forcing Penn to call a timeout.
The timeout failed to halt Bruno’s run. Consecutive threes by Perry Cowan ’23 and Anderson followed by a fast-break layup by Hunsaker put Brown up nine points. Another bucket from Hunsaker and a layup by Dan Friday ’23 gave the Bears their largest lead of the game at 13 points with 13 minutes to go. Friday’s layup capped a 28-4 run spanning both halves.
“It took us a couple minutes to get settled,” Hunsaker said. “But once we got into a groove, especially in the second half … that made the big difference as we had to close out the game.”
The Quakers refused to go away, and put pressure on the Bears as the clock winded down. Back-to-back threes by Penn’s Ray Jerome cut Brown’s lead to five with eight minutes to play. Each time Bruno pulled ahead, Penn clawed back to make it a close game. But five points was as close as the Quakers would get for the remainder of the contest, as Anderson scored eight points in the game’s final two minutes to help the Bears close out the 75-63 victory.
“This is my fourth year playing in the Ivy League, and I’ve been there before, so I knew what it takes to win,” Anderson said.
Anderson finished the win with a gaudy stat line of 31 points and nine rebounds. Gainey led the Bears in rebounds with 12 and scored six points.
Princeton 73, Brown 54
The Bears fell behind by double digits once again in their Saturday battle against Princeton (11-10, 6-2), but this time they were unable to recover. Brown held its own early on — a Joshua Howard ’20 layup gave the Bears an 8-6 lead four minutes into the game, and a Hunsaker jumper put them up 15-13 nine minutes in. But that was Bruno’s final lead of the game, as Princeton started a 15-2 run to pull ahead by 11.
Princeton scored the half’s final seven points to enter the locker room up 37-24.
Rather than make the necessary defensive adjustments like it did against Penn, Brown continued to falter in the second half. Princeton’s Jose Morales came off the bench and scored six straight points to extend the Tigers’ lead to 20 with 12 minutes to go. Princeton controlled the rest of the game and completed the comfortable 73-54 win. Anderson led the Bears in scoring again, but this time only put up 16 points.
“(Princeton) was really good and aggressive,” Martin said. “We got some good looks that didn’t go down in the second half … but (Princeton) was the better team.”
Bruno will stay on the road next weekend as it continues to search for its first ever Ivy League tournament appearance. The Bears will look to capitalize on matchups against Columbia and Cornell, two of the bottom three teams in the conference standings. “We definitely can’t overlook either of them,” Hunsaker said. “They’re both really good teams, even though their records don’t show that.”