After securing its first win of the Ivy League season against Brown, the men’s basketball team is off to Providence this weekend to see if it can make it 2–0 against the Bears for the season.
Last Saturday, the Bulldogs (7–8, 1–0 Ivy) were able to come away with the victory behind a balanced offense and a feisty defense. The Elis saw four players score in the double digits and forced 19 turnovers, which they converted to 21 points.
“It’s the best we’ve played in quite some time,” head coach James Jones said. “We got contributions from a lot of guys. We made free throws when we needed to make them and we got stops.”
The Bulldogs were able to hold the Ivy League’s leading scorer, guard Sean McGonagill, to 17 points on just 5–13 shooting and forced him to commit six turnovers. Brown center Raphael Maia, who leads the conference in rebounding, was efficient with 16 points on 7–13 shooting to go along with a game-high 10 boards, but his frontcourt mate, forward Cedric Kuakamensah, was held to just five points and two rebounds.
The Elis went 7–18 from the arc despite averaging just 32.9 percent on threes during their nonconference schedule. Guard Armani Cotton ’15 recorded 19 points on 5–7 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. Forward Justin Sears ’16 contributed a game-high 20 points, along with six boards and three assists. Sears made up for 4–11 shooting by getting to the line 15 times. Guard Javier Duren ’15 rounded out the starters’ effort with 16 points, four rebounds and five steals. Forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 contributed an efficient 10 points off the bench.
“Scoring is going to be a team effort this year,” Cotton said. “When we have just one guy going they can easily take away that option. Whenever we see balanced scoring, it’s just great. It feels good in the locker room, too.”
The Elis are now looking for a repeat performance, but they will have to do it on Brown’s home court, where the Bears are 4–2 this year, compared to just 4–5 on the road. Last season, Brown (8–7, 0–1) won eight of its 13 games in the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, including an impressive late-season victory against Princeton.
“We have to increase our intensity and our effort,” Duren said. “We know going into their house that we have to play that much harder to get a win.”
One thing the Bulldogs might have to look out for is the resurgence of Brown’s leading scorer McGonagill. McGonagill scores 19.8 points per game on 50.6 percent shooting at home compared to 17.8 points on 41.1 percent shooting on the road. After holding him below his scoring and efficiency averages last Saturday, the Bulldogs will figure to face a reinvigorated McGonagill as they look to start the season with a winning streak.
With the Elis’ next two games back home, a win in Providence would mean a possible 4–0 start to the season, which has not been achieved in Jones’ tenure as coach.
“A 2–0 start would really make us confident,” Duren said. “We just have to remain humble because it’s a long schedule. We have to keep doing the same things over and over, being consistent in our effort and our game plan.”
The Elis will tip off against Brown tomorrow at 4 p.m.