Brown all-time moment No. 5: 2003 NIT appearance

We’re counting down the top 10 moments in each Ivy school’s history as part of our Ivy League at 60 retrospective. Brown is next because people need to know whether there are Bears in Charlottesville or not.

In just its third postseason appearance ever, Brown represented itself quite well against Virginia in Charlottesville in a NIT first-round matchup, the Bears” first ever NIT appearance. Sure, Brown lost, 89-73, but there was so much more accomplished here beyond just a final score.

Led by three All-Ivy players – senior guard Earl Hunt, senior forward Alai Nuualiitia and sophomore guard Jason Forte – the Bears finished second in the Ivy League in 2003 while picking up 17 overall wins. Hunt led the Ivy League in scoring for the third consecutive season and Forte finished second in the conference in assists. Brown started the season 1-7 but won 14 of its last 16 regular season games, losing only to eventual Ivy champion Penn twice.

That formidable offensive momentum didn”t let up at UVA either. Brown shot 53 percent casino from the field in the first half, trailing by only four at halftime, 44-40. Brown junior Patrick Powers led the Bears with 12 points in the first stanza, going 5-for-7 from the field. Then a Hunt jumper cut the UVA lead to 47-46 with 17:39 remaining in the game.

But the Cavaliers wore the Bears down inside from that point on, reeling off a 10-0 run over the next 1:50 to build a 57-46 lead it never surrendered, as Brown hit just 40 percent of its shots in the second half with its offense bogging down.

Brown had defeated only Navy, Central Connecticut State, San Jose State, Rider and New Hampshire out of conference in 2002-03 – five teams with a combined record of 44- 92 that season – making the Bears” performance in Charlottesville even more impressive.

But the Bears” run at Virginia was no fluke for a team that scored 80 or more points in seven of its final 16 regular season games and 90 or more points in four of those games. Brown was loaded in 2002-03, one of the most potent squads in recent league history.

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