The men’s basketball team (13-15, 5-8 Ivy League) defeated Columbia (4-21, 1-12) by a score of 81-74 on Saturday. Jaylan Gainey ’22 had a career-high 25 points, as well as 12 rebounds and a single-game program record of eight blocks.
To complement Gainey, co-captain Tamenang Choh GS had 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 had 13 points, and Dan Friday ’24 had 12 points. Perry Cowan ’23 chipped in nine points and five assists and saw more time on the court than in prior games with key players Kimo Ferrari ’24 and Paxson Wojcik ’23 sidelined due to injury.
The Bears started off the night honoring their five seniors who started the game: Choh, Gainey, co-captain David Mitchell ’22, Noah Meren ’22 and Tyler Brown ’22. Choh had the longest career as a Bear out of the five, spending five years with the team and playing four seasons due to the pandemic cancellation of the 2020-21 season. Over his Brown career, he has etched his name in the program record books with 1,309 career points, making him the 12th all-time leading scorer after his senior night performance.
“It didn’t really hit me yet, I’m just trying to stay present,” Choh said. “It did kind of hit me a little bit when the family started getting introduced on the court (before the game) and walked out there to me; that hit me hard. It’s crazy — I came here at 18 years old and grew up with this program. I’m so happy I came here and became the person I am today.”
The Bears and the Lions kept it close all game, but the Bears posted a strong second half to secure the win. There were six lead changes in the game, all of which occurred in the first half. Brown had a four-point lead with 17 minutes remaining in the first period but was unable to hold onto it. Columbia jumped to a six-point lead with two and a half minutes left. Lilly Jr. hit back-to-back threes to close the deficit, but the half ended at 39 apiece, despite Cowan sinking a full-court shot after the buzzer sounded.
The Bears were never able to truly pull away from the Lions, but they built up their largest lead of the game — 10 points — at the 13:59 mark in the second half. Gainey was producing on both ends of the court to open the second period, scoring with a dunk just 23 seconds into the frame and blocking a shot on the defensive end during the next possession. From that point on, the Bears maintained the lead. After Bruno went up by 10 following another Lilly three, Columbia fought back to diminish the lead and tie the game at 56 with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Cowan hit a three coming out of a timeout on the next possession to push Brown back in front, a lead they held for the rest of the game. Lilly's fourth three of the night put the Bears up 76-68 with 2:35 remaining, and the eight-point deficit was too much for Columbia to overcome. Brown sealed the victory with its final five points coming from the free-throw line, earning the seniors their last win in white jerseys on the Pizzitola Sports Center court.
“I’m gonna miss this place a lot,” Gainey said. “It’s been a great four years that I have been here, and it is really starting to hit me.”
Gainey's eight blocks in the game put him at 61 total on the season, a new career high, and 123 in his career, bumping him up to third place all-time in the program record book.
"I thought Jaylan was incredible offensively (and) defensively on the glass," said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. "We had some great individual performances, and these guys are not only great players, but great people ... Our program is in a much better place because of them being with us.”
The Bears will play their final regular season game next Saturday, March 5 at 7 p.m. away against Yale.