4 takeaways from Bryant's win over Brown and a great night of college basketball in RI

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  • Jared Grasso
    American basketball coach
  • Chris Childs
    American basketball player
Brown freshman Kino Lilly Jr. drives to the basket to put Brown ahead in the first quarter. Bryant's Erickson Bans is defending.
Brown freshman Kino Lilly Jr. drives to the basket to put Brown ahead in the first quarter. Bryant's Erickson Bans is defending.

PROVIDENCE — Folks waiting until next Saturday for a proper men’s college basketball rivalry game in the state missed out.

Friday afternoon saw Bryant and Brown renew hostilities at the Pizzitola Center, and the two programs produced a crackling 40 minutes of intensity and competitiveness. The Bulldogs displayed a touch more edge in the second half to come out on top.

Peter Kiss led a balanced attack with 16 points and Bryant’s defense dug in to pull out a 65-59 triumph against the Bears. The Bulldogs allowed just two field goals after the 8:00 mark in the second half and held Brown to 34.3% shooting for the game.

Providence hosting the University of Rhode Island will garner more attention and produce an attendance number that dwarfs the 874 fans who skipped some early holiday shopping for this one. But that certainly does nothing to take away from the worthiness of this matchup. A hardcore hoops fan would have enjoyed it for various reasons — here are a few.

Bryant showing its potential

Bryant is starting to zero in on who we thought it could be.

The Bulldogs harassed the Bears on the perimeter while knocking down some shots of their own. Bryant was plus-18 from beyond the arc — nine 3-pointers to just three for Brown — and blunted a 36-20 advantage for Brown in the paint.

“I think we’ve found ourselves a little bit more,” Bryant coach Jared Grasso said. “And we still have a ways to go.”

Bryant's Hall Elisias draws a foul against the Bears on Friday.
Bryant's Hall Elisias draws a foul against the Bears on Friday.

Adham Eleeda and Chris Childs combined for seven of the nine makes from deep for the Bulldogs. Eleeda finished with 14 points while Childs added 13 off the bench. Bryant was 6-for-14 from 3-point range in the second half after a modest 3-for-10 in the opening 20 minutes.

“I’m just thinking I need to do my best,” Childs said. “If I have a shot — all the hours I’ve put in — just take the shot. If it goes in, make or miss, just get back on defense.”

The Bears opened just 2-for-16 from 3-point range and finished at 16.7% for the game. The Bulldogs held Brown to an adjusted 0.84 points per possession — losses to the Rams, Clemson and Bethune Cookman saw Bryant allow an adjusted 1.06 points per possession or more in each game.

“We had to get better defensively after the first three games,” Grasso said. “I think we’ve done that in the last two. We put in a lot of time on the defensive end the last three days in practice.”

Brown cooled off down the stretch

The Bears took a 47-40 lead when Dan Friday swooped down the lane and coaxed in a floater off the glass. Jaylan Gainey’s dunk off a lob from Tamenang Choh with 2:04 left was the next Brown field goal, and the Bulldogs had built a 60-56 lead by that point.

“I thought we got a ton of good looks in there,” Brown coach Mike Martin said. “It just didn’t go in. Credit to them.”

Kimo Ferrari’s 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds was the only other time down the stretch the Bears were able to score away from the foul line. Brown managed just six assists on its 23 field goals while committing 16 turnovers. The Bulldogs extended some defensive pressure in the second half and were more active on the wings out of their halfcourt zone look.

“We got into a little bit more of a flow,” Grasso said. “We’re kind of used to playing that way. We’re used to pressing and getting after you and speeding the game up.”

Tamenang Choh solid in his return

Choh looked like his old self, a great sign for the Bears after the graduate forward sat out three early games with a hip injury.

His 21 rebounds in this one were the most by a Brown player since the 1974-75 season. Phil Brown collected 24 boards in an Ivy League game against Dartmouth during that campaign. The last Bears player to hit 20 rebounds in a game was Matt Mullery against Harvard in 2008-09.

Adham Eleeda maintains Bryant's possession in front of the Bulldogs' bench.
Adham Eleeda maintains Bryant's possession in front of the Bulldogs' bench.

“That’s who he is,” Martin said. “He can dominate games with his motor and his effort and his energy.”

Choh returned for the Paradise Jam opener against Creighton, appearing off the bench. He’s started the last three games for Brown and is still attempting to regain his touch around the rim. Choh was just 2-for-13 from the field against Bryant, a long way from the 46.1% he shot through his first three seasons on campus.

“It’s been getting better for sure,” Choh said. “Obviously, the rebounds weren’t enough today, but we’ll get back to it and learn from it.”

Coaches had a few words

There was a certain kind of chippy presence in this one, and it started with the two coaches.

Grasso and Martin exchanged a few verbal barbs in the opening half and sent a clear message. Both were going to fight for their respective teams and have their say with the three-man officiating crew. The Bulldogs and Bears shot a combined 35 free throws — 18 for Bryant, 17 for Brown.

Brown's David Mitchell fights for his own rebound against Bryant's Adham Eleeda and Hall Elisias Friday afternoon.
Brown's David Mitchell fights for his own rebound against Bryant's Adham Eleeda and Hall Elisias Friday afternoon.

“I have great respect for him and his team,” Martin said. “They play with an edge just like we do.

“You kind of knew this was coming — this type of game. The intensity that was out there and guys having fun competing at a high level.”

“It was a toughness game,” Grasso said. “It wasn’t pretty. It was tough plays, it was physical and it was chippy. And I like that.”

Providence coach Ed Cooley was an interested spectator from just beyond the Brown bench. Might he have a similar exchange or two with URI coach David Cox next Saturday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center? That would certainly add some spice to the already simmering blood feud between the Friars and Rams.

bkoch@providencejournal.com

On Twitter: @BillKoch25

BRYANT (65): Elisias 4-7 5-6 13, Eleeda 4-13 2-2 14, Hurtado 0-0 1-2 1, Kiss 7-13 1-4 16, Pride 3-9 1-2 8, Childs 4-8 2-2 13, Bans 0-2 0-0 0, Brelsford 0-0 0-0 0, Calixte 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-52 12-18 65.

BROWN (59): Choh 2-13 5-7 9, Gainey 4-4 1-2 9, Friday 8-18 0-1 17, Mitchell 1-2 0-0 2, Wojcik 2-7 0-0 4, Ferrari 2-10 2-2 8, Lilly 1-4 1-1 3, Owusu-Anane 2-8 1-4 5, Cooley 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-67 10-17 59.

Halftime — Brown 30-27. 3-Point Goals — Bryant 9-24 (Eleeda 4-12, Childs 3-5, Pride 1-2, Kiss 1-5), Brown 3-18 (Ferrari 2-7, Friday 1-5, Choh 0-1, Lilly 0-2, Wojcik 0-3). Fouled Out — Choh, Gainey. Rebounds — Bryant 28 (Eleeda 8), Brown 46 (Choh 21). Assists — Bryant 12 (Kiss 6), Brown 6 (Choh 2). Total Fouls— Bryant 20, Brown 19. Records — Bryant 3-3, Brown 4-4.

A — 874 (2,800).

This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: 3 takeaways from Bryant's win over Brown in a chippy game

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