Brandon Anderson led four double-digit scorers as Brown pulled away late against Columbia to grab the opening game of its New York state weekend, 72-66, and secure its sixth win in its last seven games.
Bruno (13-9, 6-3 Ivy) jumped out to a 18-10 lead at the 10 minute mark, before the Lions went on a 17-3 run over the next four minutes. The Bears knotted the game at 30, but Jack Forrest nailed a three from the left elbow and Luke Bolster hit a jumper from the free throw line to give Columbia (6-19, 1-8) a 35-30 lead at the half.
The Lions opened the second half on an 8-2 run to stretch its advantage to a game-high 11. Tamenang Choh and Zach Hunsaker scored six points each to lead Brown on its own 12-2 run to cut the deficit to one, 45-44.
The Bears reclaimed the lead, 49-47, at the 12-minute mark, after David Mitchell blocked a Mike Smith layup and Bruno broke out on a quick Josh Howard-to-Choh-to Anderson transition layup. Anderson hit a fadeaway jumper from the line to make it 57-50 with seven minutes left, but the Lions would not go away without a fight.
Over the next three minutes, Columbia would take a 62-61 lead on a 12-4 run, punctuated by back-to-back three pointers from Tai Bibbs and Jake Killingsworth and a right side baseline fade away jumper from Forrest.
The Bears would retake the lead when Jaylan Gainey hit a reverse layup off a Mitchell airball baby hook. Choh would stretch the advantage to three when he hit a layup off his own miss. A Randy Brumant slam dunk on the next possession would make it a 65-64 game with two minutes left in the second half.
Twenty seconds later, Choh backed Killingsworth into the lane and kicked the ball out to an open Perry Cowan, who hit a three from the top of the arc to give Bruno a four point lead.
After two Bibbs free throws made it 68-66, Hunsaker nailed a fadeaway jumper from the right side of the lane with under 10 seconds on the shot clock to give Bruno a two possession lead with 50 seconds on the clock.
A Mike Smith airball from three sealed Columbia’s fate as Hunsaker grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit both free throws to close out the scoring.
The Bears, which only shot 24% from three and 65% from the charity stripe, won the game inside the arc by making 54% (23-for-43) of its two pointers and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. The Lions managed 54% from two, 32% from beyond the arc and a perfect 8-for-8 from the line, but being limited to only 11% of its offensive rebounds kept the Light Blue from getting those few extra baskets needed to secure its second league win.
Anderson scored a team-high 20 points and Hunsaker put up 17. Choh, the KenPom MVP, finished with a stat-stuffing evening of 15 points, seven rebounds (four offensive), six assists, two steals and a block. Gainey added a double-double with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.
Smith had a game-high 22 points in the losing effort. He was joined in double-digit scoring by Killingsworth with 16 and Bibbs with 11.
The Bears started the evening tied for third with Harvard and Penn, one game behind Yale and Princeton. The win moves the Bears into second place, tied with Harvard and Princeton, after the Crimson beat the Tigers and the Quakers were defeated by Dartmouth.
The Lions, losers of eight straight games and on the verge of elimination from the Ivy Tournament, will welcome first-place Yale on Saturday night at 7:00 as they celebrate the naming of their court in honor of former player Jonathan Schiller.
Brown, meanwhile, will take the long trip up to Ithaca for a 6 p.m. Saturday contest against Cornell (5-17, 2-7). After the Big Red’s double-overtime defeat to Yale, Mike Martin’s squad will face a determined but tired team as it looks to stay in the league’s top two on its quest for a first-ever bid to Ivy Madness.