On Saturday afternoon, Bruno (14-12, 7-6 Ivy) earned a hard-fought 84-73 victory against the Columbia Lions (7-21, 2-11 Ivy) in New York. With the win, Brown is fourth in the Ivy League, a position it needs to maintain to secure an Ivy League postseason spot — and possibly a March Madness one.
"It was a great win for us,” said Head Coach Mike Martin ’04 in a statement to Brown Athletics. “Obviously, it was not easy. We didn't expect it to be easy. But we're really happy for our players. They stepped up and found a way.”
Aaron Cooley ’25, Nana Owusu-Anane ’25, Kino Lilly Jr. ’25, Dan Friday ’24 and Paxson Wojcik ’23 lined the circle for tip off. Although Columbia jumped out to a 6-1 lead, Bruno was quickly energized by a Lilly Jr. three-pointer, sparking a 12-0 run to lead 13-6.
Showing off his passing ability, Owusu-Anane found Cooley for a baseline dunk to take a 19-11 lead with 11:04 left in the half. “We both understand what we bring to the table so there’s a mutual trust between us that allows for our games to compliment one another,” Cooley wrote in a message to The Herald.
Brown led by as much as 14 in the first half, but a Columbia run brought the Lions within three points in the final minutes of the half. Bruno entered halftime leading 40-35.
Bruno held a marginal lead for the first seven minutes of the second half, but Columbia tied the game 50-50 with 13:04 left in the contest.
In a highlight play, Wojcik inbounded the ball to Friday through the defender’s legs, leading to a one-handed slam dunk.
“I knew Dan was going to be open and I anticipated that, but my defender had good size and the only way to get Dan the ball was a bounce pass through his legs, so it just came to me and I threw it,” Wojcik wrote in a message to the Herald. “I’m lucky it worked.”
The Bears led the Lions by only two in the 12th minute of the second half, but Wojcik quickly widened the gap, grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring. Wojcik then scored an and-one, stealing the ball from the Lions the following play to take a seven-point lead.
The only thing on his mind was “just to stay composed and to make plays that help my team win,” he wrote.
Bruno managed to seal the victory down the stretch, winning 84-73.
“I’m mostly just proud of the way we closed out the game,” Wojcik wrote. “It’s always tough to win on the road, so I was proud of the way we responded when Columbia made their runs.”
Wojcik spearheaded the victory, tallying 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists while shooting an efficient 7-9 from the field. Lilly Jr. contributed 23 points, drilling two three-pointers. Owusu-Anane left with an injury in the second half but managed to score 13 points and grab eight rebounds in his 15 minutes of playing time.
Cooley continued to bring his energy to the team, grabbing four offensive rebounds and playing strong defense.
“We knew coming in that our season was at stake, and that this was a big game,” he wrote. “I just chose to embrace the moment and just be as locked in as I could be for myself and for my teammates.”
Brown is now fourth in the Ivy League with only one game remaining on their schedule. The team will face off against Yale at the Pizzitola Sports Center on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., looking to guarantee a postseason spot with a victory. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.
“We will get our rest tomorrow then be back to work on Monday getting ready for Yale,” Wojcik wrote. “They’re a tough team and we will have our hands full, but I’m really excited.”
“The focus is and always has been wanting to be a part of history,” Cooley wrote. “Something that’s bigger than us. Something worth fighting for. All in.”