The men’s basketball team (1-0) defeated Salve Regina University (0-2) 89-59 in the Pizzitola Sports Center to start the 2021-22 season. The Bears’ win was the first time the team took the court since March 7, 2020.
The Bears had 16 different scorers in the game, showcasing the depth and range that the young team has, said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “We have experience and a huge spark of energy with our (first-years) coming off the bench,” he said. “We have options, and it’s gonna be interesting trying to find the right combinations throughout the year. We can use this (game) to experiment early and find the right group for us to get this going.”
Captain and guard David Mitchell ’22 led the team with 13 points, going 4-6 from the field. Forward Jaylan Gainey ’22 had a team-high seven rebounds and guard Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 led the team in assists with six to kick off his collegiate career. Guard Dan Friday ’24 was key for the Bears’ defensive end, leading the team with three steals.
The first half started off slow for both teams and the Seahawks managed to take a narrow 10-9 lead five minutes into the half. This was the only time in the game the Bears were playing from behind. Brown outscored Salve Regina 22-5 over the next 12 minutes to take a 31-15 lead with 7:29 remaining in the half.
The Bears ended the first half leading the Seahawks 48-26 with Mitchell scoring the last six points of the period. Brown’s offense stayed hot, going 8-18 from behind the arc. Guard Paxson Wojcik ’23.5 was responsible for half of those three-pointers, shooting 4-7 from distance. The Loyola University Chicago transfer made his presence known in his debut for the Bears as the go-to shooter that ignited the offense. “At first we were getting great looks but they weren’t falling,” Wojcik said. “Those are shots that Coach (Martin) likes us taking and once you keep taking those good ones, they’ll keep falling.”
Salve Regina remained competitive in the second half as both teams traded buckets for the remainder of the contest, but it wasn’t enough to tighten the score. The Seahawks got the Bears’ lead back down to 30, but did not draw any closer. The Seahawks could not hold off the Bears as they put the game out of reach, pushing the lead to 37 at the 6:17 mark after a layup from Mitchell.
Mitchell displayed his excitement for the new season and his confidence in the team to make an impact on the Ivy League. “It’s huge to come out here for the first time and know that the game means something,” he said. “We got those nerves out of the way and were excited to be in front of a real crowd in full uniform. This was a great step forward and I’m really excited about this group and where we can go from here.”
Looking ahead, the Bears will face a stern test in the second game of their season as they travel to Chapel Hill to take on No. 19 University of North Carolina this Friday at 9 p.m. Two days later, Brown will return home for a matchup with local rival Central Connecticut State University at 4 p.m. Sunday.