Brown’s Chris Skrelja’s double-double summed up the men’s basketball team’s second match of the conference season. The versatile guard sank five one-handed shots from the charity stripe, dropped in a three-pointer and grabbed 15 of his team’s 33 total rebounds. The Bears as a team controlled the boards, the three-point stripe and the free-throw line, not to mention a few other statistical categories.
Brown’s Ivy-leading backcourt dominated in a way unseen last Saturday, when the squad visited New Haven. The Bears opened up a 16-point lead with five minutes left in the first half, only to see the Elis crawl back and briefly take the lead after a respectable 26-8 run that left the men in blue up by two with 12:14 left in the game. But Yale slipped back into the defensive lull that plagued them early in the game and ultimately fell to Brown, 77-68.
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“It’s obviously a lot tougher to play Ivy games on the road,” captain and guard Eric Flato ’08 said. “We thought we nixed that last year, but it’s tough to play the same team two times in a row.”
The home crowd seemed shocked to see a fast Brown start. A layup-steal-layup combination got the engine started for the home team, and two three-point daggers from marksman Mark McAndrew put the Bears up, 10-4, leaving the Eli defense looking slightly confused and decidedly ineffective.
On the half, the Bears sank seven shots from beyond the arc, but the Elis held their own with 18 points in the paint and an 11-point run to close out the last five minutes of the first stanza. Flato scored a hat trick of consecutive three-pointers, while an emphatic steal and dunk from center Matt Kyle ’08 left the Bulldogs trailing by just five at the break — and left the crowd much quieter than it had been 20 minutes earlier.
“In the last five minutes of the first half we played really well, but we didn’t get stops in the second half that we did last week,” Yale head coach James Jones said.
Brown’s onslaught of three-point shots slowed — they made only two in the second half — but the Elis’ foul trouble propped up Bear struggles from the field. The Bulldogs handed Brown 21 points off free throws in the second half alone, and guard Alex Zampier ’10, forward Travis Pinick ’09 and Kyle all racked up five fouls.
The Bulldogs had trouble pushing through the Bears’ perimeter defense to get the ball inside to their “bread and butter,” as Jones put it. Forward Ross Morin ’09 had another notable night, scoring 18, but Yale still came up short.
“We have to be stronger-minded offensively,” Jones said. “We have to understand who we are. When we get the ball to Ross and Matt, our team is at its best.”
“We have to stick to our game plan,” Morin added. “When we did, we were more effective. It’s just being patient and executing on offense.”
The Bulldogs had moments of effectiveness against the Bears’ perimeter shooters and knotted the score at 40 on a transition three-pointer from Zampier just short of halfway through the second period. They later came within three of the home squad, with 7:30 left in the match. That was the Elis’ last glimmer of hope for sweeping the series.
En route to his 23-point night, Huffman released a shot from beyond the arc, was fouled by Zampier on his way down and then saw his shot slip through the net. His free throw to complete the four-point play sealed the deal for the Bears, as they kept control of a big lead for the remainder of the game.
“They hit some tough shots, and we didn’t follow our own defensive principles. That hurt us,” Morin said. “We also gave them easy looks.”
The squads split the season series for the third time in as many years.