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Men’s basketball drops final two home games to Princeton, Penn

Bears fail to solidify chances for first-ever Ivy League tournament berth

The men’s basketball team came up empty in its last home weekend of the season, losing to Princeton Friday and Penn Saturday. After dropping its last three games, Bruno is tied for fourth place in the Ivy League with Penn. But Penn currently holds the fourth-place tiebreaker over Brown, putting pressure on the Bears to defeat Harvard and Dartmouth on the road next week in their final two regular season games. Bruno will need to win more games than Penn next weekend to qualify for the Ivy League tournament.

Princeton 71, Brown 49

Brown (13-12, 6-6 Ivy) started hot during the first 70 seconds of its Friday night matchup against Princeton (13-12, 8-4), but struggled to maintain that performance throughout the entire game. Zach Hunsaker ’20 was the first player to get on the scoreboard with an early three-pointer. His basket was followed by two stuffed Princeton shots, one blocked by Jaylan Gainey ’22 and the other blocked by Tamenang Choh ’21. On the same shot clock, the Bears batted away the Tigers’ next two attempts as well.

“We started the game great (with) Jaylen inside and super aggressive in the way we played defense,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04.

At the16-minute mark in the first half, Princeton scored and stayed on fire from behind the arc. Brown found itself down 23-13 with eight minutes to go in the stanza after consecutive defensive stops by Princeton. Points in the paint offered an additional scoring source to three pointers that were still falling for the Tigers. Princeton shot 44 percent from beyond the arc during the half.

Bruno went into the locker room down 40-28 after Choh knocked in a bank shot through contact.

The second half started similarly to how the game opened, with an even run of 5-5 during the preliminary four minutes.

Missed shots and fouls by Brown caused arrhythmic play as Princeton continued to score, building up a larger lead of 56-33 by the midway point of the second half.

“Princeton made us work for everything,” Martin said. “Every breakdown we had, they took advantage of it. We were far from our best and when we play like that, a result like tonight can happen. They were terrific, we were not good and we have to pick ourselves up off the floor and get ready for a big one tomorrow (against Penn).”

Brown put on a press at the five minute mark that slowed the Tigers and brought some pace to Bruno’s play, but the Bears’ collective efforts weren’t enough to eclipse the over 20-point hole they found themselves in.

Pulling ahead in the Ivy League Tournament race once again proved elusive for Brown. Princeton won 71-49, finishing with 28 points in the paint and 37 bench points to Bruno’s 18 and 14 respectively.

Penn 73, Brown 68

Last year, Penn (14-11, 6-6) ended Brown’s hopes for an Ivy League Tournament appearance in the final game of the regular season. Saturday night, significant contact and aggression right from the jump ball demonstrated that there was no love lost between these two teams and that this year’s game was of equal significance.

Similar to their start against Princeton, the Bears used three-pointers and blocks on the other end to pull the pendulum in their favor for an 8-2 lead after five minutes.

Between Penn’s steals, pushing the pace and its band shouting and playing all game, the Quakers built momentum — but could notbreak away from a tie game of 17 at the eight-minute mark.

Instead, Brown answered by consecutively stealing the ball and going on an 11-0 run, temporarily putting the Quakers on their heels. But Penn struck right back to pull within one going into the halftime break.

The second half opened with players on both teams hitting the hardwood, resulting in no calls, but none of these physical plays produced baskets. Elbows, wall-like screens and pushes were the defining feature of the whole game and only increased in frequency during the second half.

Brown and Penn went on short-lived runs that reflected the heightened competitiveness midway through the half, and Penn jumped ahead 44-42.

“Penn made some big shots down the stretch,” Hunsaker said. “They capitalized on a couple of loose balls that ended up in their hands…they also were very patient on the offensive end and really pounded us down in the post.”

As the game progressed, so did frustration for both coaching staffs. The head coaches had a heated exchange with four minutes to go in the game. Soon after, the Bears put on a full court press and nearly forced a turnover, but Penn kepting hitting inside and outside shots to build up a substantial late lead.

“We tried to give them different looks,” Martin said. “I’m proud of my team. It’s not a matter of not playing hard. It’s not a matter of not wanting it. Every time I watch our team play, we compete. But we just didn’t make quite enough plays tonight.”

With 35 seconds left on the clock, Hunsaker hit a three pointer to cut the team’s deficit to three at 70-67. But Penn responded with a three of its own and held on to win the game 73-68.

“I thought it was a really good college basketball game,” Martin said. “(Penn) created their bounces, but sometimes loose balls found them and they made threes off them and their second chance points were huge. … We have two games to go and we’re tied with Penn,” Martin said. “Now we have to go win two on the road.”

“Our mindset this week is to come out strong and finish strong when competing,” Gainey said. “As a program commonly seen as a underdog in (the Ivy League), we got a chip on our shoulder and we are willing to prove we belong in the Ivy League tournament.”

Brown will conclude its regular season on the road as it looks to rebound from a winless weekend. The Bears will take on Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday in hopes of advancing to the Ivy League Tournament.

Brown will conclude its regular season on the road as it looks to rebound from a winless weekend. The Bears will take on Harvard Friday and Dartmouth Saturday in hopes of advancing to the Ivy League Tournament.


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