Second-Half Rally Lifts Yale Over Brown

Sam Downey (dspics.com)
Sam Downey (dspics.com)

Copeland's Free Throw With 2.9 Seconds Left The Game Winner

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Yale played perhaps its best half of the season when it needed it most. Sam Downey scored 19 of his team-high 26 points over the final 20 minutes, and Miye Oni made four three-pointers in the final 3:29 as the Bulldogs overcame a 12-point deficit to knock off Brown 75-74 before a stunned crowd of 1,217 at the Pizzitola Center.

Alex Copeland hit the winning shot, a free throw with 2.9 seconds left that snapped a 74-74 tie. Brown's JR Hobbie got off a desperation three-pointer as time expired that missed, setting off a Yale celebration.

Trailing 40-28 at the intermission, the Bulldogs held Brown without a point for the first 5:30 of the second half and scored 13 points, six of which came from Downey, to get right back in the game.

"Intensity," Downey said of the difference over the final 20 minutes. "We knew we had to get stops."

From there the game was nip and tuck the rest of the way. There were 10 ties over the final 14 minutes.

Yale trailed by two, 61-59, when Oni caught fire. His first three-pointer gave the Bulldogs a 62-61 lead with 3:29 left. After Brown's Steven Spieth made two free throws, Oni answered with his second trey, from almost the identical spot.

Spieth scored the Bears' next six points, including a three-pointer that gave them a 69-67 lead with 1:53 remaining. Oni, though, again responded, hitting another three-pointer from the wing. After Brown's Tavon Blackmon missed a jumper, Oni made his fourth three-pointer with 29 seconds left that gave Yale a four-point lead and looked like it might be the dagger.

Especially when Jordan Bruner blocked a Blackmon layup on Brown's ensuing possession and the rebound deflected out of bounds off a Bear player. Oni, though, was whistled for a technical foul for excessive celebrating on the play.

Spieth hit both three throws to pull Brown within two. After Blake Reynolds made one-of-two free throws, Spieth tied it with his seventh three-pointer of the game with seven seconds remaining.

Copeland then raced up court and was bumped. He missed the first free throw but nailed the second to snap the 74-74 tie.

Downey had 13 rebounds to go along with his 26 points. He was 11-of-16 from the field and added an assist in 32 minutes.

"We definitely thought we could beat them in the interior," said Downey, who posted his second double-double of the season. "It was nice to finally get some shots to fall."

All 12 of Oni's second-half points came in the final four minutes after he had missed his first three three-point attempts.

"Once [Miye] gets on a roll, you don't want to pull back," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "He saw the finish line and came through for us. Once he gets his confidence, it's a lot easier to make shots."

Reynolds also finished in double figures for Yale with 13 points. Copeland had nine points and Anthony Dallier contributed six points, five rebounds and six assists.

Spieth led all scorers with 33 points. He was 7-of-10 from three-point range and made 8-of-9 free throws.

The Bulldogs shot 56.3 percent from the field and committed just four turnovers in the second half. Yale turned the ball over 14 times in the opening 20 minutes.

"Our offense played confused in the first half," Jones said. "At halftime we made some adjustments in how we wanted to move the ball, and the guys responded."

NOTES: Yale outrebounded the Bears 47-31 and outscored them 42-26 in the paint… Bruner had four blocked shots… The Bulldogs held Brown to 36.2 percent shooting from the field. It was the seventh time in the last nine games that Yale has held an opponent under 40 percent… The Bulldogs have won five straight and 12 of the last 14 meetings with Brown… The same two teams meet next Friday at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. following the Yale-Brown's women's game, which starts at 5:30 p.m.

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