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Men’s basketball fails to complete comeback vs. Cornell

With 74-72 loss against Cornell, Bears have won two of ten games since Dec. 27

<p>Brown’s winter break contests included games against top opponents such as Syracuse University and University of Maryland.</p>

Brown’s winter break contests included games against top opponents such as Syracuse University and University of Maryland.

The men’s basketball team continued their season during the winter break from December into January, winning two of 10 games. In their most recent game against Cornell Sunday, the Bears erased a 21-point deficit but fell just short, losing 74-72. 

Brown’s winter break contests included games against top opponents such as Syracuse University of the Atlantic Coast Conference and University of Maryland of the Big Ten.  

The Bears fell to Syracuse 93-62 at the Carrier Dome Dec. 27. A big second half performance lifted the Orange to victory after the Bears trailed by just six at halftime. Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 led the Bears with 13 points on a 5-for-12 night from the field. Captain Tamenang Choh ’GS had nine points and a team-high seven rebounds, and Dan Friday ’23 chipped in eight points and five assists. The main story of the game was Syracuse’s sharp shooting from three. The Orange shot 61.9% (13-for-21) from deep on the night. Despite 10 points from Lilly down the stretch, the Orange offense was just too much. Syracuse would add 25 points over the final 10 minutes to claim the 93-62 victory.

On Dec. 30, the Bears lost to Maryland by a score 81-67 at the XFINITY Center. The Bears led their Big Ten opponent by four at the half, but the Terrapins had a big second half on both ends of the floor to claim the win. Choh led Brown with 25 points, one short of tying his career high, and added seven rebounds and a pair of assists. Lilly had 17 points and three assists, while forward Jaylan Gainey ’22 had 10 points and three blocks and Paxson Wojcik ’23 contributed a career-high nine rebounds. A back-and-forth first ten minutes of the game saw Choh and Gainey combine for 18 of the Bears’ first 20 points. Brown would push its lead to four multiple times throughout the first half before taking its largest lead of the game with 2:16 left in the frame. Brown went up by six, with 16:47 to go in the second half after a Choh three, but the Terrapins scored the next 13 points to lead 52-45 at 12:40. From that point on, the Bears would not get within five, which came at 11:59 after a Friday layup. A three by Lilly at 3:58 cut Maryland’s lead to eight, but the Terrapins would score eight of the final 10 points of the game to eliminate the Bears’ chance for a comeback.

 Brown turned its attention to Ivy League play as the Bears opened the conference portion of their slate on Jan. 2 at Penn. The Bears have now played all seven other Ivy opponents this season, maintaining a 2-5 in-conference record.

The team’s comeback attempt fell just short at Penn, as the Bears dropped their Ivy League opener 77-73 to the Quakers. Brown trailed by 10 at the half but managed to work the deficit all the way back to two late in the game. The Bears used a 9-2 run that went from the 2:15 mark of the second half down to just 12 seconds remaining, to cut the Penn lead to 75-73. Wojcik was fouled on his successful layup attempt and sank the free throw to get Brown within two, but the rally didn’t last and the Bears fell short.

Brown earned its first Ivy League victory of the season as the Bears took down Harvard 84-73 at the Lavietes Pavilion Jan. 7. As a team, the Bears were 15-for-26 (57.7%) from downtown, which was both their most made three-point field goals and highest three-point percentage of the season. Four Brown players ended up in double figures with Lilly leading the way with 23 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three. Choh had 20 points and nine rebounds, and Wojcik tied his career high of 17 points. Guard Perry Cowan ’23 had a career-high 15 points, all from three-pointers, and he was 5-of-7 from three. The Bears went on to play Dartmouth in a loss of 58-46 on an Ivy League back-to-back Jan. 8. Choh led all scorers with a game-high 23 points and earned his second double-double of the season by grabbing 12 boards. Brown started fast and had a quick 10-0 lead just four minutes into the game thanks to five points from Choh, three from Lilly, and two from co-captain David Mitchell ’22. The Big Green offense began to wake up and the game started to slip away from the Bears. 

Brown fell to Princeton 76-74 in another close contest Jan. 15. Lilly led the Bears with a career-high 25 points. Choh contributed 18 points, a team-high seven assists and four rebounds. Friday was the third Bear in double digits as he scored 10 and added two assists and one steal. The game saw 19 lead changes with neither side ever leading by more than six.

Brown dropped their next game, a Jan. 17 tilt against Yale, by a score of 66-63. The Bears used a 13-1 run late in the second half to cut Yale’s lead to one, but couldn’t seal the deal as the visiting Bulldogs claimed the victory. Trailing 59-46 with 8:07 remaining in the game, the Bears scored 13 of the next 14 points to climb back to 60-59. After two free throws by Yale pushed its lead back to three, Choh (30 points) pulled the Bears within one at 63-62 with just 46 seconds to play. On the ensuing Bulldog possession, Gainey recorded his fifth block of the game, but the ball ricocheted off the glass and straight to a Yale player who sunk the second-chance layup. Brown missed a three on its next possession and two free throws by the Bulldogs all but iced the game, putting them up five with three seconds remaining. Choh sank one more basket as time expired, but it wasn’t enough.

The Bears bounced back Jan. 22, defeating Columbia 93-74. The Bears saw four players score in double figures, forced the Lions into 22 turnovers and recorded a season-high 14 steals. Choh led Brown with 20 points and eight rebounds. Wojcik had 15 on 4-of-6 shooting from three, Forward Nana Owusu-Anane ’25 put up 12 and Cowan finished with 11. Gainey scored eight and added eight rebounds and two blocks. Kimo Ferrari ’24 had a game-high four steals. The Bears recorded 34 points off turnovers and, thanks to 13 offensive rebounds, had 14 second-chance points.

In a hard fought game against Cornell University Sunday afternoon, the Bears came all the way back from a 21-point deficit early in the second half, but ultimately fell 74-72 at the buzzer at the Pizzitola Sports Center.

“During the first half, we were really bad — both on offense and defense, we dug ourselves a huge hole,” head coach Mike Martin ’04 said. “Clearly, we did some great things to come back in the game, but those first 21 minutes are part of the game too, just like the last 19 minutes.”

 Lilly tied the game twice down the stretch. With 3:21 to play, Lilly hit a three that tied the game at 65. Over the next two minutes, Cornell built its lead back to five points, at 72-67. Another three by Lilly cut the deficit to two, and then a layup by the freshman with 32 seconds left on the clock tied things at 72.

 Lilly led all players in the game with 23 points and added two rebounds and two assists as well. Wojcik had 16 points, four rebounds and led the team with three assists. Choh, who was in foul trouble for a good portion of the second half, finished with 10 points, four rebounds and a pair of assists.  

“We have to be better in the first half,” Lilly said. “We went down big in the first half, dug ourselves a big hole. We’ve got to be better than that.”

 Cornell used 53.1% shooting in the first half to build its lead, compared to Brown’s 35.7% first-half clip. In the game, the Big Red shot 42.4%, while the Bears hit 39.0% of their shots.

 “I was really proud of our effort in the second half,” Wojcik said. “But there’s no reason why we can’t play with that energy and that spirit for the whole game. We know what we are capable of when we play with that emotion; we just need to play with it for all 40 minutes.”

The Bears will have a chance to do just that as they head into their final back-to-back weekend of the season next week. Brown will take on Harvard on Friday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. and Dartmouth on Saturday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. Both games will be played at the Pizzitola Sports Center. 

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