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Bulldogs Take Down Harvard 73-71; Advance To Ivy Tournament Championship Game

Miye Oni (Steve Musco photo)
Miye Oni (Steve Musco photo)

Yale To Meet Top-Seeded Princeton On Sunday At Noon

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Yale is one win away from returning to the NCAA Tournament. Miye Oni scored 18 points to lead four players in double figures as the third-seeded Bulldogs knocked off No. 2 Harvard 73-71 in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra.

The Bulldogs will meet top-seeded Princeton in the championship game on Sunday at noon. The game can be seen on ESPN2, and the winner earns the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The win avenged two regular season losses to the Crimson and was reminiscent of the epic 2015 Ivy League playoff game between the two teams at the Palestra. Only this time it was Yale that came out on top.

"It was a great college basketball game," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "I give all the credit to my guys, they had a lot of guts and fight to help them get this one."

There were plenty of contributors. Sam Downey posted his third double-double of the season against Harvard with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Alex Copeland added 12 points, and Jordan Bruner had 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Anthony Dallier scored nine points, and Trey Phills had seven points and was strong defensively.

Yale led for nearly 38 of the 40 minutes.

But there were some anxious moments down the stretch. Two free throws from Harvard's Chris Lewis tied the score at 62 with 4:51 left. That's when Bruner came up big for the Bulldogs. First he tipped in an Oni miss and then he hit a short jumper in the lane to put Yale up four. After a Harvard basket, Bruner scored again in the paint.

Bryce Aiken's bucket pulled the Crimson within two, but Oni answered with a spectacular drive and dunk, and when he completed the three-point play by hitting a free throw, the Bulldogs had a five-point lead, 71-66, with 1:31 left.

"I rejected the screen, the floor spread and it left the lane open," said Oni of the SportsCenter Top 10 worthy basket.

Aiken, though, kept Harvard in the game by hitting a three-pointer. After Phills made one-of-two free throws, the Crimson had the ball with a chance to tie, but Bruner intercepted a cross court pass and was fouled with six second left. He then made one free throw to seal the win.

Harvard's Zena Edosomwan hit a layup as time expired, and the Bulldogs celebrated.

Yale, which has won four straight games, shot 47.5 percent from the field and held the Crimson to just 35.1 percent.

"We did a good job defensively and getting stops," Jones said. "We ran our motion offense well enough and our guards were able to get to the middle of the floor."

The Bulldogs outscored Harvard 42-32 in the paint. Downey was a big reason why. He was 6-of-11 from the field and also had four offensive rebounds. Eleven of his 13 points came in the second half.

"I think Sam is the best big in the league," said Oni. "We have some of the best players [in the league] and we stick together."

Bruner also was a presence in the post. He was 4-of-5 from the field and added two steals and a block.

NOTES: Princeton needed overtime to defeat Penn and reach the championship game. The Tigers, who went 14-0 in the regular season, edged the Quakers 72-64… Former Yale coach Joe Vancisin, who guided the Bulldogs to two Ivy League championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances, was honored at halftime as a Legend of Ivy League Basketball… Aiken finished with a game-high 28 points for Harvard. He scored 20 of those points in the second half and almost single-handedly kept the Crimson in the game.

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

Highlights: Men's Basketball Beats Harvard 73-71 in Ivy League Tourney Semis
Mar 11, 2017