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Brown Ends Princeton’s Title Chase

Sunday, March 10, 2013

 

Heading into Saturday night’s game at the Pizzitola Sports Center, the Princeton Tigers were playing for an Ivy League title. Princeton was a half game behind Harvard (who was expected to and did beat Cornell at home) in the standings and needed to beat the Brown Bears and then beat Penn Tuesday night to share the title with the Crimson forcing a one-game playoff for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

However, a funny thing took place at Brown Saturday night. It was the Bears who played like a team in contention for a title as they easily knocked off the Tigers 80-67.

Princeton’s lack of passion at times seemed inexplicable. Certainly, some of it had to do with the way Brown played. Others believe that it is the Tigers’ m.o. to play a cool, calm and collected style of basketball.

Whatever the case may be, Princeton saw their Ivy League championship hopes disappear on the Williams Court.

After Princeton jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead on buckets by Hans Brase (11 pts) and Denton Koon(9 pts), the Bears went on a 10-0 run fueled by senior Matt Sullivan (13 points, 6 assists) and junior Sean McGonagill (season-high 24 points). Sullivan scored 6 of the 10 points during that stretch, McGonagill the other 4.

Brown led for the remainder of the half and took a 33-29 lead into the locker room which would have been a 7-point lead were it not for a bank-shot three at the buzzer by Koon.

Brown would continue to hold the Tigers at bay in the final 20 minutes when it became apparent that Princeton’s late-game strategy would be to have the Bears earn the victory from the foul line.

That proved to be easier said than done.

Brown, the league’s worst free throw shooting team all season, managed to go just 32-52 from the stripe for the game. However, the Bears did make their final 9 free throw attempts in the game’s final minute to seal the victory.

The win lifted Brown’s overall record to (13-15) overall and an impressive (7-7) mark in Ivy League play.

Princeton fell to (16-11). The Tigers are now (9-4) in Ivy play with their final regular season game to be played at the Palestra against Penn Tuesday night.

NOTES:

-Brown's win over Princeton paired with Harvard's home win over Cornell gave the Crimson their third straight Ivy League men's basketball championship and second straight NCAA Tournament berth.  Harvard shared the title with the Tigers two years ago but lost a 1-game playoff for the right to grab the league's automatic bid to the Tourney.

-Brown was picked to finish 7th in the Ivy League’s preseason poll of media members that cover the league. However, their (7-7) record was good enough for a 4th place finish, one game behind third place Yale (8-6).

-Mike Martin’s 13 wins are the most by a Brown first-year head coach since George Allen led Brown to a (16-4) record in the 1938-39 season.

-It was “Senior Night” at the Pizzitola Sports Center Saturday with the teams three seniors being honored prior to the start of the game. Matt Sullivan, Tyler Ponticelli and Stephen Albrecht were all presented framed photos of themselves in action by head coach Mike Martin at mid court. All three were escorted by their families to center court.

The trio went out in style with Sullivan scoring 13 points, dishing out 6 assists and pulling down 3 rebounds. Ponticelli had a near double-doube with 10 points and 9 rebounds while Albrecht scored a season-high 17 points nailing 4 three’s.

-Sullivan played in his record 117th game for Brown Saturday. He also finished his career with 1,033 points.

-Brown’s two starting big men Rafael Maia and Cedric Kuakumensah finished first and second respectively in the Ivy League and rebounding. Both averaged 7.5 rebounds per game and were separated by a total of 1 rebound over the course of a 28-game season. Maia pulled down 210 boards to Kuakumensah’s 209.

-The freshman Kuakumensah did, however, have something to brag to Maia about after the game. His 66 blocked shots were, by far, the best total in the Ivy League this year and set a Brown single season record.


 

 

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