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Men’s basketball defeats Cornell 81-80 in must-win thriller

Jaylan Gainey’s put-back dunk seals game at buzzer

<p>Jaylan Gainey ’22 recalled that his team “really wanted to win,&quot; adding that he was glad to give the team &quot;that final push we needed to close it.&quot;</p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics</p>

Jaylan Gainey ’22 recalled that his team “really wanted to win," adding that he was glad to give the team "that final push we needed to close it."

Courtesy of Brown Athletics

The men’s basketball team (12-13, 4-6 Ivy League) defeated Cornell 81-80 after taking the lead in the final possession of the game with 3.5 seconds left on the clock.  Down one with possession of the ball, Tamenang Choh GS — who finished with 11 points and 15 rebounds — drove to the basket looking to seal the win. Choh missed a contested layup, but Jaylan Gainey ’22 managed to grab the offensive rebound. Gainey soared over two defenders and slammed down the dagger to secure the win. Gainey finished the game with a team-high 16 points to go with nine rebounds and two blocks. With this win, the Bears remain in Ivy League playoff contention with four games left to play.

Gainey described the feeling of converting in such a clutch situation. “Being down by one with (a few) seconds on clock and knowing the season (was) on the line really had my heart racing,” he said. “My team and I really wanted the win, and I’m glad I was able to give us that final push we needed to close it.”

Six different Bears scored in the double digits. In addition to Choh and Gainey, co-captain David Mitchell ’22 had 12 points, four rebounds and three steals. Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 had 10 points, becoming the fifth-highest first-year scorer in program history with 338 points and counting on the season. Guard Dan Friday ’23 had 11 points and Perry Cowan ’23 had 10 points while also combining for five threes as Brown’s bench outscored Cornell's by 15 points. 

With 23 lead changes throughout the game, Brown shot 57.6 % from the field in the first half. The Bears recorded 14 offensive rebounds, their most since their trip to Syracuse on Dec. 27.

To begin the second half, Cornell went on a 10-0 run to gain a six-point edge. The Bears fought hard and took a 71-69 lead with six minutes remaining. Cornell briefly took a one-point lead — one that Brown surpassed at 34.3 seconds remaining thanks to Choh's two made free throws with 34.3 seconds remaining.

The Big Red looked to be on the verge of securing a win after a layup put them 80-79 with 14.1 to go, but Gainey saved the day as the Bears defeated the Big Red 81-80.

Choh was grateful that Gainey was able to convert after his miss. “During the timeout, Coach (Martin) drew up a play for me to get to the rim. The Cornell guys really helped in the paint, but I knew if I could at least get it on the rim, there was enough time for me to possibly get the board and put it back,” he said. “Thankfully, Jaylen came in and dunked it over me and brought us home for the win.”

 "That's a great win for our team," said head coach Mike Martin ’04 in a statement to the Brown Athletics website. "Cornell presents lots of challenges at both ends of the court. I thought our players stepped up and found a day to do whatever was necessary to win the game. As a coach, that was exciting to see."

The team is focused on finding ways to come away with victories in their next two Ivy League games. Our “mindset for the next two games is just winning. I plan on doing everything I can for us to win,” Gainey said. “Opportunities for us to make the tournament are limited, so me and the guys are gonna give it our all in this final stretch. (It’s) not going to be easy but we are more than prepared.”

 Still, Choh emphasized that the team is trying to maintain their focus. “Our mindset is just (to take things) one game at a time,” he said. “We of course understand the situation we're in, but we just want to key in on one game and one practice at a time and not try to get ahead of ourselves.”

Brown will have a home court advantage for three of the remaining four regular-season games. This coming week, the Bears will host Princeton on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. and Penn on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. 


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