The men’s basketball team (12-15, 4-8 Ivy League) went 0-2 in their homestand over President’s Day weekend, falling to Princeton (19-5, 9-2 Ivy) Feb. 18 and Penn (12-13, 9-3 Ivy) Feb. 19. With losses in both games, the Bears have nearly been eliminated from contention for the Ivy League postseason, unless they tie with two other teams at 6-8 and win a tiebreaker for the fourth and final spot in the postseason.
Brown 50, Princeton 69
On Feb. 18, the Bears fell to Princeton 69-50. Captain Tamenang Choh GS led the team with 18 points, and secured his fifth double-double of the season with 10 rebounds. Forward Jaylan Gainey ’22 grabbed 10 boards, guard Paxson Wojcik ’23 had seven points and Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 and Dan Friday ’24 had six points each.
While the Bears put together stretches that showed glimmers of hope, they couldn’t handle the Tigers, especially from behind the three point line. Princeton converted on 11 three-pointers, hitting five in the first half and using six second-half threes to put the game out of reach.
"It was a tough night for our team and I think Princeton deserves a lot of credit," said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04. “That was far from what we can do when we are at our best. We just had too many possessions where we struggled and didn’t execute well enough. We’ve got to be more efficient.”
Princeton began to pull away early in the first half, going on a 17-4 run in the last six minutes of the period to put the Bears on their heels. They took a 16-point lead with four minutes left in the first half.
Brown gained momentum in the final three minutes of the half, outscoring the Tigers 10-4 to cut the deficit to 34-24 going into halftime. But despite their efforts to come back, the Bears remained behind the Tigers for the rest of the game. Princeton opened the second half scoring 18 points to Brown's eight, building a 20-point lead at the 14-minute mark. The Bears eventually fell 69-50.
Brown 88, Penn 89
The Bears returned to the court Saturday as they hosted Penn at home. Brown ultimately lost in a heartbreaker at the buzzer, falling to the Quakers 89-88. Bruno took a one-point advantage when Lilly Jr. hit a three with just five seconds left on the clock, but Penn scored four seconds later to take home a victory.
Lilly, whose 20 points set the pace for Brown, was aided by a strong performance by Friday, who contributed 19 points and six rebounds. Choh added 15 points, nine rebounds and nine assists, while Kimo Ferrari ’24 repeated his career-high of 12 points. For part of the match, Ferrari shot 4-for-4 from behind the three-point line.
The game was a physical contest — Wojcik exited early in the second half after a tough fall, Choh suffered a finger injury heading into the final six minutes of the game and Ferrari briefly went down halfway through the second half due to an ankle injury.
Ferrari, who has proven his value on defense during his first season with the Bears, had matched up against every opponent’s top player going into the game against Penn. Saturday was no different, as Ferrari took on Penn guard and Ivy League Player of the Year candidate Jordan Dingle.
“We have so many great players this year, so it’s definitely made the adjustment to the college level a lot easier,” Ferrari said. “I’ve never played with such talented players as Choh, Gainey, Wojcik and Lilly, so being on the court with them is a lot of fun and it makes my job a lot easier. I’ve really embraced my role of being a defensive stopper and providing energy whenever I’m on the court. I love my role on the team and I’m grateful for the opportunity to play and compete with all of my guys.”
The two teams went back and forth, exchanging the lead 13 times. The Bears’ had as wide as a 13-point advantage during the first period, but Penn responded with six straight points at the end of the half to bring the score to 46-39 by halftime. At the 15:37 mark, co-captain David Mitchell ’22 brought the Bears’ lead back to ten with a score of 55-45.
Penn cut the deficit over the next four minutes and went on a 20-3 run to retake the lead, leading 65-58 with 11:52 to play. When just 4:42 remained on the clock, Brown outscored Penn 13-6 despite a nine-point disadvantage, narrowing the Bears’ deficit with a score of 87-85 and with about half a minute to play. Bruno forced a Penn turnover, allowing Lilly to give the Bears an advantage with a three until Penn scored a game-winning bucket shortly after.
Despite the tough weekend, the Bears are motivated heading into the final two games of the season and are proud of the efforts they displayed this year, Ferrari said.
“It was definitely a tough weekend, but the team is ready to get back after it this week,” Ferrari said. “We’re ready to get in the gym together and start game-planning for Columbia. At the end of the day, we’re a very close team and there is no place we would rather be than in the Pizzitola (Sports Center) practicing and getting ready to compete with each other. We’re looking forward to having a strong finish to the season.”
“Going forward we just have to move on. We still have two great opportunities left on the schedule that we need to capitalize on,” Wojcik added. “Looking back on the year I’m proud of how far we’ve come as a team. Personally, I have definitely grown as a player and a person in my first year here at Brown.”
The Bears’ last home game is slated for Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. against Columbia, which will also be senior day for the team.
“Looking ahead to senior day, it is all about reflecting on the last four years,” Mitchell said. “They have gone by extremely quickly, and even with missing a season, I would not trade the experience (for anything). I am simply looking forward to playing one final game in the Pizz(itola) and enjoying the moment with my teammates and family.
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Bears were out of postseason contention after losing to Penn. In fact, the Bears could be eligible for postseason contention if they win two more games, tie with two other teams and then defeat said teams in a tiebreaker for the fourth and final postseason spot. The Herald regrets the error.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story contained passages with identical or nearly identical language to a news article on the official Brown Athletics website. These portions have since been revised. An Editors’ Note explaining this and other changes can be found here.