Brown men’s basketball beats Columbia, 66-64, to create three-way tie for fourth place

Columbia men’s basketball battled back several times against Brown on Friday evening, eventually taking its first lead with 4:10 to go. But clutch defense and free throw shooting helped the Bears claim a hard fought 68-66 victory at Levien Gymnasium.

The win for Brown (8-17, 4-6 Ivy), coupled with Harvard’s loss to Princeton, leaves the Bears, Columbia (13-10, 4-6) and Harvard tied for fourth place and the final spot in the Ivy League Tournament with only four games remaining in the regular season.

Brown jumped out to a 19-9 lead after the first 13 minutes on the strength of nine points from starting sophomore guard Alexander Lesburt Jr. and a pair of three-pointers from the right elbow by backup senior guard Kimo Ferrari.

The Lions went on a 10-0 run to knot the game at 19 with just over four minutes left in the half.

The Bears used three more triples and a slam dunk and-one from senior forward Malachi Ndur to reclaim the lead, 33-24, with just under a minute to go. A jumper from Columbia junior guard Jaden Cooper finished the scoring and left the home team down seven at the midway point.

A major difference over the first20 minutes was the outside shooting, where Brown, the top three-point defensive team in league play, limited the Ivies top three-point shooting team to a 1-for-10 effort. Meanwhile, the Bears went 6-for-14 (43%) from three-point range.

In the first three minutes of the second half, Columbia went on a 7-0 run to tie the game, but Brown responded with its own 10-2 run to take a 43-35 lead with 13:35 to go in regulation.

The Bears were up seven, 51-44, at the midway point of the half, but the Lions again recovered and knotted the game at 54.

After junior forward Nana Owusu-Anane scored the next five points to put Brown up 59-54 with five and a half minutes to go, the Lions made its last run.

A give-and-go layup from junior center Jake Tavroff, followed by an and-one jumper in the lane by sophomore forward Blair Thompson tied the game at 59, and a triple from the right baseline by sophomore guard Kenny Noland gave the Lions its first lead, 62-59, at the 4:08 mark.

After Brown’s Kino Lilly Jr., the Ivy League’s leading scorer, hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and Columbia’s Avery Brown knocked down two free throws, the home team was up two points with two minutes to go.

Lilly Jr. was fouled driving to the hoop and made both free throws to make it 64 all.

After junior guard Aaron Cooley corralled an errant Columbia three-pointer, he grabbed an offensive rebound off of an Owusu-Anane missed hook shot and was sent to the line.

Cooley calmly sank both shots to give Brown a 66-64 lead with under a minute on the clock.

On the next possession, Avery Brown found an opening an went to the hole, but Cooley was right there to block the ball into Owusu-Anane’s hands.

The Bears ran the shot clock down, but Lilly missed a jumper and the Lions had one last chance.

Coming out of a timeout, the ball ended up in the hands of Columbia’s leading scorer, junior guard Geronimo Rubio De La Rosa, with only a few seconds left. But his game winning three-point attempt clanked off the rim, and Brown escaped with the win.

The Lions shot 68% from two (13-for-19) in the second half and scored 18 more points in the paint, but the Bears held a 13% rebounding advantage and limited Columbia to a low 22% shooting from downtown (2-for-9).

Just as importantly, Bruno hounded De La Rosa and held him to only two second-half points.

Ferrari finished with a game-high 18 points, on 6-for-9 shooting from the three-point line and was named the KenPom game MVP.  Lilly added 14 points, 11 in the second half, while Owusu-Anane totaled 13 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Cooley, who pushed Brown over the top, ended the night with six points, four rebounds and the late-game block.

Noland led the way for Columbia with 16 points, but De La Rosa only finished with 11 points, 4.3 points below his league average.

After savoring Friday’s win, Mike Martin and his Bears, winners of two in a row, will make the difficult bus trip to Ithaca and face first-place Cornell on Saturday. Meanwhile, Jim Engles and his Lions will look to end their two-game losing streak when they welcome second-place Yale to Morningside Heights.