After three years of falling just short, the men’s basketball team finally beat Brown.
Saturday night’s Ivy League opener not only gave the Elis (9-7, 1-0 Ivy) a solid start to conference play, but also the satisfaction of blowing out an opponent that has plagued the Bulldogs for years. Leading by 29 with 5:26 left on the clock, Yale head coach James Jones cleared his bench, and the Elis eventually walked away with a 75-61 win over the Bears (4-10, 0-1).
“It feels pretty good to finally beat them,” forward Sam Kaplan ’07 said. “They’ve played us tough the past three years and beaten us the past three years.”
The Bulldogs took control of the game early, scoring the first seven points of the contest off of free throws and layups. One of the most prominent trends of the game — the Elis’ dominance in the paint — developed early in the half. Six of the Elis’ first seven field goals were in the key, and they had six free throw attempts in the first 10 minutes from Brown fouls under the basket.
“We’re pretty deep down low,” center Dominick Martin ’06 said. “It’s tough to keep up with us, I think.”
Yale’s post players had unquestionably their best performance of the season against the Bears. Martin had a game-high 13 points and collected six rebounds. Kaplan added 11 points and five rebounds.
But perhaps it was the reserve post players who were most impressive. Forward Ross Morin ’09 and center Matt Kyle ’08 each shot four-of-four from the field and combined to shoot five-of-five from the free throw line. Morin earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for his efforts.
“All our post guys scored in double figures,” Jones said. “And when you have [Kaplan] and [Martin] step out and take jump shots, it’s hard to stop.”
Yale’s defense dictated the pace of the game from the very beginning. The Bears had four turnovers and three missed shots before they could even put a single point on the scoreboard. Brown forward Scott Friske, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, was held to just 11 points after a 26-point, 10-rebound effort against Quinnipiac the weekend before.
“They were a pretty good team and if you give a team like that confidence, they can beat you,” Kaplan said. “We were able to get stops on defense and kind of take the wind out of their sails.”
Yale took a 16-6 lead with 12:21 remaining in the first half, and Yale’s second team took the opportunity to prove its worth. Three freshmen and two sophomores — swingmen Travis Pinick ’09 and Caleb Holmes ’08 and guard Chris Andrews ’09 joined Morin and Kyle on the court — continued to pressure the Bears. Despite a few missteps, they maintained the Elis’ 10-point lead until the starters began to gradually sub back in and boost Yale to a 36-23 halftime lead.
“Our second team played phenomenal tonight,” Kaplan said. “I was real proud of those guys. They just kept the pressure right on. They played well.”
The second stanza saw Yale break away from Brown for good. A short jumper from Morin with 12:40 left in the half gave Yale a 20-point lead, 51-31, and the Bulldogs led by more than 20 points until there was just 1:35 left in the game. Brown made a weak rally in the last several minutes, led by PJ Flaherty, who scored 10 of his team-high 12 points in the last three minutes, but Yale’s third string kept the Bears at bay.
The Bears will get another shot at the Elis this Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Providence for the rematch.