Having missed his first six shots from the field, Chris Andrews ’09 might have been hesitant to shoot down the stretch of Friday night’s crucial conference matchup against Brown (6-10, 0-2 Ivy).
But Andrews isn’t your typical player.
With Yale (7-9, 2-0) up by three with under a minute remaining, Andrews calmly hit the biggest shot of his injury-plagued career as the shot clock wound down to double the Yale lead to six and ultimately ice the game for the Bulldogs.
The three-pointer made it 57-51 but the Bears didn’t let up, eventually pulling it within two points, 57-55, with 22 seconds on the clock. After guard Porter Braswell ’11 missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Bears had a chance to go for the win or send it to overtime. But the Yale defense stepped up like it did all game long and didn’t allow the Bears to get a shot off, sealing Yale’s fifth consecutive victory, 57-55, in front of a raucous crowd at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“I had my feet set and followed through,” Andrews said of his crucial three. “The coaches gave me great advice, and my teammates told me to keep shooting and have confidence. Luckily I was able to hit it.”
Andrews’ setbacks at Yale, which have included two ACL tears, have been well documented. And when the shot went in, the crowd erupted — partly because of the game situation and partly because of the shooter.
“I think I hurt my ears yelling after that,” said captain Ross Morin ’09, a close friend of Andrews.
The second win over the Bears in seven days gives the Bulldogs a 2-0 start in the Ivy League for the first time since the 2001-’02 season and puts Brown in a tight spot. With two losses in conference play already, the Bears can’t afford any setbacks for the rest of the season if they hope to have a chance at winning the Ivy League championship and earning the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that comes with it.
On the other hand, Yale’s 2-0 start places the Bulldogs in first-place tie with defending conference champion Cornell (12-6, 2-0).
“It feels good — these guys are so tough,” Morin said of Brown. “Every Ivy League win is big.”
Morin, who hit his first five shots from the field, led the Elis with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Alex Zampier ’10 added 12 points, while forward Mike Sands ’11 contributed with six points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Much like last week, Brown didn’t look to its bench for contribution — three bench players combined to play 13 minutes and score four points — and were led by forward Matt Mullery. The 6-foot-8 junior registered 22 points, nine rebounds, and six blocks — numbers very similar to his effort in the teams’ first meeting (23 points and eight rebounds).
Except this time Mullery played all 40 minutes, rather than the 38 minutes he played the first time around. Guard Peter Sullivan also played the entire game and Chris Skrelja and Scott Friske, 38 and 39 minutes respectively, weren’t far behind.
Guard Adrian Williams found himself in foul trouble early but managed to finish with 16 points, going three of four from behind the arc.
While Brown saw limited production from its bench, Yale head coach James Jones used six players off his bench, an unusually high number, and was able to take advantage of the discrepancy much like he did in the teams’ first meeting.
“It’s nice to have a well balanced team where you have confidence in the guys off the bench and they come through for you,” Jones said.
Despite not holding a lead until a Williams three pointer made it 39-37 for Brown’s only lead, the contest was tight throughout. Yale raced out to a 9-2 lead and at one point held an eight-point lead that the Bears cut to one point, 28-27, by halftime.
Next weekend the Elis will go on the road for their Ivy League New York trip. On Friday night, Columbia (5-11, 0-2) hosts Yale, and the Bulldogs head upstate on Saturday to battle Ivy League championship favorite Cornell. Both tipoffs are scheduled for 7 p.m.