Just a week after the Yale men’s basketball team held off Brown to open the Ivy season with a win, the only things that remained the same in Saturday’s rematch were the names on the jerseys. This time, Brown came out hot and withstood each Yale rally to pull out a 73–56 victory.
It was a face-off that mirrored last week’s contest, but the Bulldogs and Bears appeared to exchange roles. Yale (7–9, 1–1 Ivy) fell behind by as many as 18 points in the first half before orchestrating a second-half comeback that had Brown on its heels.
In the end, the Bears (9–7, 1–1) and star point guard Sean McGonagill were too much to handle.
The Ivy League’s leading scorer, McGonagill, was contained a week ago as he was limited to 17 toughly contested points in New Haven.
In Providence, however, McGonagill — averaging 18.5 points per game entering Saturday — put on a clinic. The senior racked up 29 points, thanks in large part to seven made three-pointers in nine attempts. Entering the afternoon, McGonagill was seventh in the country in made three-pointers per game, averaging 3.53 a game.
“[McGonagill] was terrific today,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “We did a poor job at recognizing him on some of their sets that we did a great job of last weekend. Every time we made a mistake, he hurt us.”
In doubling his typical three-point output against Yale, McGonagill ensured that Brown earned a split against the Bulldogs for the season series. The home team in this matchup has now won four straight games dating back to last year’s series.
The first half saw Yale jump out to a modest 4–0 advantage thanks to a pair of baskets from point guard Javier Duren ’15. McGonagill proceeded to answer with a sneak peek of things to come.
The sharpshooter knocked down all three of his attempts from deep within the first five minutes, feeding off the home energy. He has shot 9 percent better at home than on the road this season.
In the postgame press conference, Brown head coach Mike Martin said he chalked the win up to the mere fact that his team had McGonagill on its roster, and Yale did not.
The Bulldogs appeared to a catch a break, however, when McGonagill picked up his second foul less than six minutes into the game and was forced to sit on the bench for much of the first half. Instead, the Bears caught fire inside, scoring five layups during an 11–1 run.
Yale forward Justin Sears ’15 extinguished the scorching momentum of Brown with a steal at half-court that led to one of his signature ferocious slams.
Duren also managed to make some plays during the first half, as he led the team with eight points at halftime. Nevertheless, Brown entered the locker room with a commanding 38–25 edge.
The second half saw the Yale squad scratch and claw as it mounted mini-run after mini-run. Whenever the Bulldogs were on the brink of making it over the hump, however, Brown responded.
“It was really frustrating,” Duren said. “It really started on the defensive end though. We gave them good looks at the basket early on and they capitalized, pretty much setting the scene for the entire game.”
Yale’s inability to complete the comeback culminated with a momentum-altering sequence with about five minutes left to play.
Sears had just single-handedly cut the deficit to five as he scored eight unanswered points, six of which came from the charity stripe.
“We were thinking ‘We came all this way, we can’t give up now,’” Sears said.
Brown had begun to respond, but Yale guard Anthony Dallier ’17 drew a potentially huge foul on a three-point attempt from the right wing.
With a chance to bring the Elis back within five points and striking distance, Dallier was unable to capitalize at the line, missing all three. He was not alone. A week after Yale pulled out the victory largely thanks to the team’s free throw shooting, the Bulldogs were off in Providence, making just 19 of 38 their attempts.
On the ensuing possession, McGonagill stabbed a dagger into the hearts of the Elis, converting a three-point basket despite being fouled by Dallier. McGonagill would knock down the free throw and hit yet another three the next time down the court, extending the Brown lead to 15 with just 4:07 remaining.
It was a perfect example of the senior guard, McGonagill, making the plays the freshman, Dallier, could not. This was a game that the senior — an obvious contender for the Ivy League Player of the Year award — would simply not allow to get away from the Bears.
“Some players got discouraged after [the McGonagill four-point play],” Sears said.
The Bulldogs attempted to muster a response, but their efforts fell short. Sears led the way with 17 points, receiving little help in the second half, in which he scored 13 of Yale’s final 17 points. Duren added 13 points and guard Armani Cotton ’15 also cracked double-digits with 10.
The Elis will attempt to bounce back on Friday, when they host the biggest surprise of the Ivy League thus far, Columbia (13–6, 2–0).
Tipoff against the Lions is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at John J. Lee Amphitheater.