Bulldogs Drop Heartbreaker At Vermont

Miye Oni (photo courtesy of UVM sports information)
Miye Oni (photo courtesy of UVM sports information)

Catamounts Hit Winning Shot With One Second Left

BURLINGTON, Vt. – Yale nearly pulled off a big comeback at Vermont. Instead, the day ended in heart break for the Bulldogs. Ernie Duncan's driving layup in traffic with one second left lifted the Catamounts to a thrilling 67-65 win before a near capacity crowd of 2,173 at Patrick Gym.

The loss spoiled another strong performance from Yale freshman Miye Oni, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds. Sam Downey added 13 points and Blake Reynolds scored 11 for the Bulldogs (2-3).

Anthony Lamb paced UVM (6-2) with 18 points and Kurt Steidl added 11.

The game was a matchup of New England rivals who both have enjoyed great success in recent seasons, and it lived up to its billing.

There were six ties and three lead changes in a fast-paced first half that saw Vermont use a late push to take a 45-37 lead the break.

When Cam Ward's three-pointer gave the Catamounts a 58-43 lead with nine minutes left, it looked like they might coast to victory.

Yale, though, refused to go away. An Oni three-pointer started a 13-3 Bulldog run over the next five minutes that had them right back in the game. Alex Copeland's three-point play pulled Yale within one, and then Oni hit three free throws with 1:46 left to give the Bulldogs a 65-63 lead.

After Dre Wills made a free throw to tie it at 65, Downey saw his jump shot from the wing rim out with 29 seconds left, setting up Duncan's heroics.

"Our guys showed a lot of heart to fight back," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "We just need to do the little things better – make free throws and take it harder to the basket."

It was the third heart-stopping finish of the week for the Catamounts, who beat Wofford on a shot in the final seconds on Monday and then lost to Houston on a buzzer-beater on Wednesday.

Vermont put on an offensive clinic in the first 20 minutes. The Catamounts shot nearly 70 percent (18-of-26) in building an eight-point lead.

"Our defense let us down in the first half," Jones said.

It was a different story in the second half as the Bulldogs limited UVM to just 30 percent from the field and 22 points.

Freshman Jordan Bruner, who missed the first four games with an injury, made his Yale debut and finished with eight points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. His first career basket came on a driving dunk in traffic shortly after he checked in.

NOTES: This was the second straight game between the teams at Patrick Gym that was decided in the final seconds. Two years ago, Matt Townsend's jumper from the top of the key with five seconds left lifted Yale to a thrilling 57-56 victory… The Bulldogs outrebounded UVM 38-29… Yale committed a season-high 18 turnovers… The Catamounts, who already have eight games under their belts, have won 20 games in each of the last eight seasons… The game capped a busy week for the Bulldogs, who played at Virginia last Sunday, at Pitt on Tuesday, dealt with a long delay before flying home on Wednesday and then making the nearly five-hour bus ride to Burlington on Friday… Yale is now off until Wednesday's game at Bryant. Tipoff in Smithfield, Rhode Island, is slated for 7 p.m.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity