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Big Second Half Lifts Yale Over Sacred Heart

Alex Copeland (dspics.com)
Alex Copeland (dspics.com)

Three Players In Double Figures

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Yale used a near flawless second half to pull away from Sacred Heart. The Bulldogs shot 56 percent from the field, limited the Pioneers to 32 percent and outscored them 40-26 over the final 20 minutes en route to an impressive 66-52 win at the William Pitt Center.

The final margin was deceiving. Yale led by 23 points with a little over five minutes remaining.

Alex Copeland paced Yale with 16 points, 14 of which came in the second half. Jordan Bruner added 14 points and six rebounds, and Sam Downey had 10 points and seven rebounds.

The Bulldogs, who won their second straight, struggled offensively in the first half, committing 11 turnovers and never finding a good flow, but they still found themselves tied thanks to a strong defensive effort.

It was a far different story on the offensive end for the remainder of the night.

"We were forcing things in the first half," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "We settled down in the second half, got great opportunities at the basket and played to our strength."

The Pioneers, who scored 91 points in a 91-82 win over UMass-Lowell on Tuesday, were just 19-of-60 from the field in the game and 6-of-22 from three-point range.

"We did a great job defensively the whole game," Jones said. "Sacred Heart thrives in transition and they got a couple early [baskets] but we bounced back and stopped them."

The score was tied at 26 at halftime, but the Bulldogs opened the second half on a 12-2 run. By midway through the half, Yale's lead was 22, 53-31, following an Anthony Dallier jumper. 

"We picked up our energy in the second half," said Bruner, whose 14 points were a career high. "We didn't play with enough energy in the first half."

Bruner was a force on the defensive end as well, blocking four shots. He now has eight blocks over the last two games.

"I just try to stay in front of my man and help out my teammates when I can," he said of his defensive effort.

Bruner, a freshman, also showed off another facet of his game, hitting the first three three-pointers of his young career. He was 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.

"I got into a rhythm," he said. "I would like to have made a few more."

DeVon Barnett led Sacred Heart with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Quincy McKnight, who scored 34 points in Tuesday's win and leads the Pioneers in scoring, was held to 12 points, nearly eight below his average.

Blake Reynolds scored nine points for the Bulldogs (4-4). Dallier finished with seven, Miye Oni contributed five points and six rebounds, Eric Monroe scored three points, and Austin Williams had two points.

NOTES: Yale outrebounded the Pioneers 39-33… The Bulldogs have now won four straight over Sacred Heart… Yale has won eight straight games against in-state opponents… Trey Phills missed the game with an injury so Copeland made the first start of his career… Thomas Ryan, Landon Russell and Noah Yates saw their first action of the season... The Bulldogs, who have won 16 straight home games, play their next two in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater. The first is Sunday against Delaware at 2 p.m. Central Connecticut then visits next Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tip.

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