The Bruins men’s basketball team took two losses last weekend as they made the trip to Rocky Mount, N.C., to compete in the Roger Taylor Invitational Tournament.
The Bruins, already coming off two straight losses, took on Greensboro College in the Pride’s season opener.
Greensboro College, led by Damian Dixon’s 16 first-half points, quickly built a small lead and held on through most of the first half. Sophomore Kyle Turner led the way for the Bruins, scoring eight points and adding four rebounds before halftime. In the last few minutes before the break, the lead went back and forth but ended with a five-point advantage for the Pride.
The Pride came out aggressively after halftime and extended their lead after several Bruins turnovers. Junior Zach Mercado, who finished with 12 points, came alive with eight points in the second half and helped keep the Bruins afloat.
BJU found itself down by eight points with two minutes to go. Sophomore Larry Taylor, who led Bruins scoring with 16 points, knocked down two free throws, but Greensboro’s Will Griffin converted on several free-throw attempts to seal the game 74-64.
Following the tough loss against Greensboro, the Bruins geared up for their second game of the tournament, this time against the Battling Bishops of North Carolina Wesleyan College. From the outset, the game went back and forth as both teams were able to convert. The score remained nearly even until the Bishops, who had beaten Maryland Bible the day before, managed to get out in front 32-22 with about four minutes to go in the first half.
The Bruins responded and tied the game 35-35 with a run led by Taylor, who was named to the All-Tournament Team. However, N.C. Wesleyan’s Marcus Williams threw up a shot and scored as the buzzer sounded to put the Bishops up 38-35 going into halftime.
The Bruins took the lead two minutes into the second half on a 3-pointer from sophomore Darnel Antoine. The Bishops looked to score quick, easy transition baskets, but the Bruins were prepared for this style of play and adjusted the defense to minimize N.C. Wesleyan’s scoring opportunities. The game stayed close until about nine minutes remained, when the Battling Bishops started to inch away from the struggling Bruins.
BJU shot 35.5 percent from the field against 47.5 percent from N.C. Wesleyan. Despite the Bruins’ defensive efforts, the Bishops kept knocking down shots. “We executed really well, probably the best we’ve done all year,” noted senior guard Evan Brondyke. “They just pulled away at the end. We were able to get the shots we wanted at the end of the game; they just didn’t fall when we needed them to fall.” The Bruins went down for the fourth time in as many games with the 79-65 loss.
BJU will take on Thomas University at the Davis Field House tomorrow at 4 p.m.