Yale held Brown guard Earl Hunt to only 20 points on Saturday at the Pizzitola Center in Providence, R.I. But the Brown bench caught fire, lighting Yale up for 27 points to give Brown a 94-84 win and a sweep of the Elis.
“Their main guys didn’t put up the points that they did in the first game,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “It was their bench players that really beat us.”
Brown’s Harold Bailey and Jaime Kilburn came off the bench for a combined 25 points in the first half. Approximately four minutes into the half, Brown went on a 9-0 run in which Bailey and Kilburn scored all of the Bears’ points. The surprising offensive output from the two Brown backups gave the Bears a commanding 51-36 halftime lead. Although Yale made adjustments during halftime and held the two bench players to only two points combined in the second half, the damage had already been done.
Before this weekend, Kilburn had been averaging 7.1 points per game and Bailey had been averaging 1.5 points per game. Kilburn finished Saturday’s contest with 16 points and Bailey tacked on 11.
“We weren’t as alert as we needed to be,” Jones said. “We thought Kilburn and Bailey were players that we could overlook but unfortunately those guys really stepped up for them.”
Earl Hunt is at least partially to blame for Kilburn and Bailey’s breakout performances. In Yale’s Ivy-opening loss to Brown at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Jan. 18, Hunt scored 32 of the Bears’ 78 points. The Elis’ attempt at controlling Hunt freed up his teammates for a series of easy baskets.
“It was partly a lack of communication,” Yale captain Chris Leanza ’03 said. “Everyone was so worried about keeping track of where Earl Hunt was on the floor that we would forget about the guy standing wide open under the basket. They are a great transition team and we were concentrating a little too much on him [Hunt] and we ended up letting the two other guys [Kilburn and Bailey] score some easy baskets on us.”
When the game started Saturday, Yale looked like a completely different team. The Bulldogs had been plagued all season by slow starts and, in its Ivy opener, Yale never recovered from Brown’s 16-5 opening run. At the start of the contest this weekend, Yale seemed to have exorcised their demons, opening the game with an impressive 9-2 run.
But Brown came right back, going on a 16-0 run to take a nine point lead seven minutes into the game. Kilburn and Bailey followed minutes later with their own 9-0 run, turning the first half into a defensive nightmare for Yale. Brown shot 64.5 percent from the floor including 57.1 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
Yale did a much better job defending Brown from the floor in the second half, holding the Bears to just 27.6 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from outside the arc. But the increased effectiveness of the Elis’ defense came at a steep price. In the second half, Yale sent Brown to the line 26 times. The Bears returned the favor by converting 24 of their 26 attempts.
“Yes, they shot terribly in the second half and we were doing very well on the offensive end,” forward Ime Archibong ’03 said. “But we put them on the line 26 times in a half. There’s no way you can guard someone at the line. It’s almost worse than the easy looks we were getting them in the first half.”
This weekend’s loss marks the seventh consecutive game Yale has lost to a Division I team. Going down 0-2 in the Ivy League has caused Yale to do some serious soul-searching.
“There certainly are going to be some changes made,” Jones said. “The coaches and myself are going to look at the tapes this weekend and decide what changes need to be made. There are some guys who aren’t making the type of production that we need them to make and we have figure out a way to get that production out of them.”
Players agree that although the faces on the team have not changed from last year to this, there is something different between the two squads.
“I’m not saying we don’t have any chemistry, but the chemistry is definitely not as there as it was last year,” Archibong said. “It’s not so much a lack of focus but a lack of collective focus. Every game, there are individuals who are very focused, but we just can’t seem to maintain our focus as a team for the length of the game.”
Despite the frustration and doubts, Yale is optimistic about the rest of the season and is looking for redemption this upcoming weekend when the team travels to face Columbia and Cornell.
“It’s a must win if we want to make anything out of our season,” Leanza said. “Once we win one, that will turn a lot of things around for us. We’re definitely in a funk right now and I think that a win will get us out of that.”
Brown head coach Glen Miller seemed to be equally convinced that Yale will be able to make a turnaround.
“They’re still a very good team,” Miller said. “High expectation is something that’s tough to deal with, but I have a feeling that they’ll get it together.”