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Weekend Split: Men’s basketball goes 1-1 against Ivy League Rivals

Bears lose to Princeton but defeat Penn in action-packed Ivy play weekend

<p>Following the weekend's games, the Bears face additional conference rematches in order to secure a spot in next month's Ivy Madness tournament.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics </p>

Following the weekend's games, the Bears face additional conference rematches in order to secure a spot in next month's Ivy Madness tournament.

Courtesy of Brown Athletics

In a weekend defined by second-half efforts, the men’s basketball team (7-17, 3-6 Ivy) headed south to play Ivy League opponents Princeton (19-3, 7-2 Ivy) and Penn (9-15, 1-8 Ivy) on Friday and Saturday evening. 

The Bears emerged hungry for revenge against Princeton, a team they fell to earlier this month at home. But despite a strenuous effort, the Bears came up short again. Friday night’s contest in New Jersey was a battle from the moment the teams stepped onto the hardwood, with both squads going on scoring runs and demonstrating defensive prowess. 

Nana Owusu-Anane ’25 led the Bears on both sides of the floor, snagging any rebound in sight and then converting his defense into offense from behind the arc on the other end. 

Owusu-Anane’s offensive efforts were accompanied by point guard Kino Lilly Jr. ’25, who the Bears relied on to facilitate offensive sets.


After a tremendous first-half effort, the Bears found themselves in a good position, up 30-25 against a well-rounded Princeton team that has only three losses on the season.

But in the second-half, the Bears struggled to stay afloat. Princeton returned with a reawakened aggression, attacking the Brown defense and cleverly drawing fouls, which became an immediate issue for Bruno. 

The Bears shot just five free throws in the game compared to Princeton’s 31. The Tigers also capitalized on the Bears’ foul troubles, knocking down 26 of their 31 free throw attempts, which helped launch a 47-point half, sealing the win. 

On Saturday, the Bears had a chance to redeem themselves. The Bears took on Penn, a team that they had also previously faced earlier this month. 

Lilly Jr. took over Saturday’s contest, scoring at every level and distributing the ball to his teammates successfully. Lilly Jr. finished with 25 points — shooting a perfect  12-for-12 from the free-throw line.

Per usual, Owusu-Anane was the anchor for the Bears’ defense, but there was a new face who contributed in a big way Saturday.

Behind Lilly Jr. in scoring was AJ Lesburt ’25, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds and a steal, stepping up for Brown on Saturday. Prior to this weekend, Lesburt averaged just four minutes per game against Ivy League opponents; but on Saturday, Head Coach Mike Martin ’04 asked Lesburt to play a much bigger role for the Bears — and Lesburt did so tremendously well. 

“Coach Martin always talks about staying ready and that's something that resonates with me,” Lesburt wrote in a message to The Herald. “I was ready to go when my number was called and was able to step up and help contribute,” he added.

The Bears’ fast offensive pace helped them defeat the Quakers, outscoring them in both halves — 31-27 in the first and 40-37 in the second. Brown seemingly learned their lesson after a lackluster second-half defensively against Princeton. This time, they dominated the boards,  limiting Penn’s second-chance opportunities.

“The key (to the win) was our overall defensive performance, specifically in how we defended the three-point line and our defensive rebounding (limiting them to only six offensive rebounds). Our players executed it with great effort, communication, and discipline,” Martin wrote.


Following this weekend’s games, the Bears currently sit at sixth place in the Ivy League standings. To clinch a spot in Ivy Madness — the annual conference tournament that awards the winner with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament — Brown must finish the regular season in the top four teams in the conference. 

The Bears’ next games are all against Ivy League opponents, so there is little room for error if they hope to clinch a spot in the conference tournament in March. The Bears’ next game is on Friday against Columbia at the Francis S. Levien Gymnasium in New York City. 

“We will have to play better in every phase of the game than we did the first time around against Columbia,” Martin wrote. 

“They were terrific with their offensive efficiency, their offensive rebounding, and in how they defended us. They are a very talented and well coached team, so we'll need to have a great week of practice in preparation,” Martin added.

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Friday’s clash against Columbia will be available on ESPN+ at 7 p.m.

Cooper Herman

Cooper Herman is a senior staff writer covering sports and arts & culture. He is a freshman from Alexandria, Virginia studying Economics and International and Public Affairs.

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