“We have to take it one day at a time,” star forward Nana Owusu-Anane ’25 said in an interview with The Herald.
“One day at a time, win the day” was the mantra of the Bears as they entered a weekend double-header of Ivy League play. On Friday night, with over 1,000 fans in the audience for Brown’s whiteout game, the men’s basketball team (6-15, 2-4 Ivy) hosted the Penn Quakers (9-12, 1-5 Ivy) at the Pizzitola Sports Center, ending with the Bears taking a 70-61 victory over their divisional rivals.
Coming into the contest tied for fourth place, both teams looked to secure their second Ivy League victory of the season. The key to the Bears’ success was a collage of dominant performances. Two players posted double-doubles — with Owusu-Anane scoring 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Kalu Anya ’26 collecting 13 rebounds to match his 13 points. Kino Lilly Jr. ’25 matched his Ivy-League-leading points-per-game margin after a scoreless first half, knocking down 19 points in the second.
“We had some stretches of really terrific offensive execution,” Head Coach Mike Martin ’04 said following the win. “We think we can win every game we play, but you’ve got to start with one first.”
Facing a lethal offensive opponent — with Penn entering the game leading the Ivy League in both three-point percentage and offensive rebounding — the Bears’ defense had their work cut out for them. But stellar efforts kept Penn to a mere 3-21 from beyond the arc, and Brown outrebounded the Quakers 44-39.
Down by one point halfway through the first, the Bears looked to their most productive player, Owusu-Anane, who went 6-8 from the field for a total of 13 points in the first half alone. Hitting a floater from the key, he invigorated the offense, initiating a 9-0 run that featured a driving layup by Anya and a three-point play by Aaron Cooley ’25. Even after a Penn score, Brown’s offense stayed in rhythm, and following a back-to-back triple and layup by Owusu-Anane, Bruno claimed a 30-19 lead.
But the Bears were unable to keep that advantage heading into halftime. “Our offense didn’t help our defense,” Martin said after the Bears gave up a 14-point run. “We turned (the ball) over too much. (Penn is) a good basketball team, (but) we can’t allow them to make the run they made.”
Entering the second half down 35-32, the Bears fired on all cylinders. Lilly Jr., who went scoreless throughout the first, came alive, going 7-17 from the field and 4-4 from the stripe. The play of the game came with four minutes left, when Anya posterized a Quaker defender. The Bears led for most of the second, and after outscoring Penn by 12 points in the half, the team coasted to a 70-61 victory.
“We wanted to protect our home court,” Owusu-Anane said after the game. “We wanted to bounce back (from last week’s loss). We executed well. I’m just happy we got the win.”
However, the team was not afforded the luxury of celebrating the win for long. Less than 24 hours later, they faced a difficult defeat against the Princeton Tigers.
“One of the great but also frustrating things about this league is that you (always) have to bring it,” Martin said in a press conference Saturday night. “You have one good win on Friday, but you can’t rest on your win. You’ve got to bring it the next night.”
“Bringing it” is exactly what the Bears did in the first half, raining down an avalanche of triples. Facing an aggressive Princeton defense, the Bears pushed hard in transition, pressured the paint and then looked for open opportunities from beyond the arc. Over the course of the first half, the Bears knocked down five triples, four of which came within the first nine minutes.
The three-point game “was definitely something we tried to attack,” said Kimo Ferrari ’24 — who hit three triples and totaled 11 points — in an interview with The Herald following the game. “When you have guys like Kino and Nana on your team” — both of whom draw a lot of attention and are consistently double covered — “there’s a lot of space on the other side for some threes for me, Cooley and Felix.”
Despite their efficient distance game, the Bears trailed by two coming into the second half. Offensively, Brown hit more field goals and three pointers than the Tigers in the second, but still, they were unable to overcome Princeton’s lead for more than a few seconds at a time.
The game came to a head with eight minutes left, after Lilly’s seventh straight point for the Bears brought Princeton’s lead down to a two-point margin. But at this make-or-break point, Brown couldn’t capitalize and after several missed shots, Princeton pulled away.
“We had the ball,” Martin said, contemplating the moment, “and a wide open three on the wing with a guy that we love shooting that shot, (but) it just didn’t go down.”
“They’re a good team,” Owusu-Anane said after the loss. “They presented a bunch of challenges. I feel like we have to be honest: we had a lot of shots that didn’t fall — wide open shots. I think that was really the key to the story: they hit their shots, we didn’t hit ours.”
The Bears will next face Columbia on Saturday at 12 p.m. at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
“We have to protect our home court,” Martin said at the press conference. “Columbia’s playing really good basketball … They’re really good offensively, play at a fast pace (and) have a lot of guys that can shoot it … They’re going to be a great challenge.”
Lydell Dyer is a Senior Staff Writer for the sports section. A sophomore hailing from Bonn, Germany, Lydell is studying nonfiction English and political science, and if he's not off "making words sound pretty," you can find him lifting heavy circles at the Nelson.