What a difference a week makes. The men’s basketball team found that out the hard way this past Saturday.
Despite dominating Brown (6-11, 1-1 Ivy) last weekend in Rhode Island, the Elis (5-10, 1-1) found themselves in an absolute dogfight this time around, unable to stave off the ravenous Bears. After holding Brown to only 42 points in Providence — the lowest opponent point total against Yale in six years — the Bulldogs gave up almost twice that many in front of their home crowd, ultimately falling in the final minutes, 76-71. With the loss, Yale joins four other Ancient Eight teams tied for third place, each having split its first two games in the league.
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“Our guys gave a good effort,” head coach James Jones said. “We just didn’t play very smart tonight.”
Brown head coach Craig Robinson, who was ejected midway through the second half, said he was proud of the way his team battled back after last week’s loss.
“We started that first game extremely flat. I was stunned,” Robinson said. “We played really hard today and got some shots to drop. I’m really proud of our guys and staff.”
The squads played a back-and-forth game for the majority of the first half, with Brown leading 21-20 with just under nine minutes left. Yale then appeared to break the game open, running off 11 consecutive points, but the pesky Bears, eager for revenge, refused to let the game slip away and pulled within six at the half.
A series of well-executed backdoor cuts followed by swarming defense allowed Brown to cut the lead to 41-40 early in the second half. All in all, the game would feature nine ties and 15 lead changes, each team constantly vying for the upper hand.
“We didn’t do much to stop their sets,” Jones said. “We’re usually pretty good at that. I can’t remember the last time a team scored so easily off their sets.”
Yale was not ready to relinquish its lead just yet, picking up the intensity on both ends of the court. The Elis recaptured the momentum and extended their lead with back-to-back three point bombs from point guard Eric Flato ’08 and a timely charge taken by forward Jason Abromaitis ’07. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, they would see their 52-43 lead dwindle over the remainder of the game due to sloppy play on the offensive end and an inability to clamp down on Brown’s clutch shooting.
“I think we broke down a little bit mentally,” said Flato, who scored a team-high 23 points. “We knew where the shooters were, we were just a little slow.”
Brown sharp-shooter Mark McAndrew, who scored a team-high 18 points in the Bears’ loss last week, did not score in the first half of this week’s game, playing only four minutes due to foul trouble. McAndrew more than made up for his first half hibernation, pouring in 27 points in the second half on a scorching 9-for-11 from the field, including 4-of-5 from behind the three point arc.
Yale found itself clinging to a 67-66 lead with two minutes to play, but McAndrew ran off five straight points and the Bulldogs were not able to recover, resulting in their first Ivy League loss of the year.
The Elis will have an opportunity to distance themselves from their fellow third-place dwellers when they travel to Harvard (8-8, 1-1) and Dartmouth (6-9, 1-1) this weekend.