Second Half Rally, Late Heroics Lift Yale Over Cornell

Blake Reynolds (Steve Musco photo)
Blake Reynolds (Steve Musco photo)

Reynolds Scores 20 Points, Yates Adds 17

ITHACA, New York – Noah Yates' biggest moment as a Bulldog couldn't have come at a better time. Yates scored a career-high 17 points, including a huge 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that erased a one-point deficit, as Yale rallied for a big 82-80 victory over Cornell at Newman Arena.

Yates had plenty of support. Blake Reynolds also had a career night, scoring 20 points on 8-of 11 shooting. Trey Phills scored all 17 of his points in the second half, and Miye Oni made a number of key plays down the stretch to finish with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists.

"This was a great, gutty win," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "We got contributions from everybody."

It also was an important win. The Bulldogs (13-14, 6-5 Ivy) remain in sole possession of third place. They are one game in front of Columbia, who beat Brown on Friday. The Bears and Cornell sit two games behind the Bulldogs. The top four finishers qualify for the Ivy League Tournament in two weeks at The Palestra.

Yale trailed by seven at halftime and was down nine, 47-38, with 16:40 remaining. The Bulldogs then ran off nine straight points to tie.

Cornell (10-14, 4-7 Ivy) built the lead back to five on a Matt Morgan three-point play with 3:27 left. Yale, though, answered again with 3-pointers from Yates and Oni to go ahead by one. Cornell's last lead, 78-77, came when Stone Gettings hit two free throws with 38 seconds remaining.

That set the stage for Yates, who took a feed from Oni and drilled a three from the baseline right in front of the Yale bench.

Phills appeared to seal the victory with a steal and layup that made it 82-78 with eight seconds left, but there were still a few anxious moments for the Bulldogs.

Morgan was fouled attempting a three-pointer with two seconds remaining. He made the first two free throws, then intentionally missed the third. The rebound went out of bounds off Yale, giving the Big Red life.

Steve Julian, though, missed a well-contested jumper from the baseline as time expired.

"We focused on defense as much as we could," said Yates of the comeback.

Yates, who was 4-of-5 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3-point range and 6-of-6 from the foul line, was an unlikely hero. He walked on to the team at the start of his junior year after playing football in his first two years at Yale.

"I told him two years ago don't even think about playing. Cheer on your teammates and come to practice and work hard," Jones said. "He did that, and now he's helping us win games. He was tremendous tonight. He gives us a different look on offense."

And did Yates ever imagine hitting a game-winning shot when he first joined the team back in 2016-17?

"Definitely not," he said.

The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games, and Yates has been a major contributor, averaging 10.5 points during the stretch.

"I just try to do what I can to help the team," he said.

Yale shot 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the field and scored 52 points in the second half.

NOTES: The Bulldogs were 10-of-19 from 3-point range in the game… Yale swept the season series from Cornell for the fifth straight year… Reynolds' previous career high was 19 points in Yale's victory at Washington to open the 2016-17 season…  Atkinson had two blocks… The Bulldogs play at Columbia on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 8:30 p.m. at Levien Gym. The game will be televised on SNY.

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