Maybe the men’s basketball team should just spot its opponent some points before every game.
For the second consecutive time, the Bulldogs (6-9, 1-0 Ivy) stumbled out of the gate but were able to figure things out and come out on top.
This time, Yale’s comeback came on the road at Brown (6-9, 0-1), beginning the team’s 14-game Ivy League schedule. The Bears jumped out to a 17-6 lead before the Elis put it together on the way to a 70-62 win, extending its winning streak to four games.
“Every Ivy League game on the road is tough to win and this is a league where if you lose a couple off the bat, you’re out of it [contention] pretty quick,” forward Travis Pinick ’09 said. “So to come out here on our first game on the road to get a win, that’s huge.”
The comeback commenced midway through the first half with a 9-1 Bulldog run following a Yale timeout to cut the deficit to three, 18-15. Brown kept a two-point lead, 29-27, at the half, but all signs indicated the Elis were going to continue their run — and they did just that.
Heading into the half with just four points, guard Alex Zampier ’10 took over in the second half without much of a conscience. The team’s leading scorer hit jumpers curling off screens and falling down, and every shot seemed to be falling for the 2-guard. The East Greenbush, N.Y., native dropped in 15 points in the second half to finish the contest with 19 — and left his teammates shaking their heads.
“A couple of shots Alex made, I was in awe of,” point guard Chris Andrews ’09 said.
Not that Zampier’s ability to score at will surprises head coach James Jones.
“Alex has the potential to be a great, great scorer,” Jones said. “And we were able to run some stuff for him and he made some plays. When you’re able to score off your offense and then make a play when we got nothing, well that’s the sign of a great player.”
Captain Ross Morin ’09 chipped in with 13 points and the do-it-all Pinick registered 11 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
As a team, the Bulldogs scored 43 points and shot 60.9 percent from the field in the second half, while allowing Brown just 33 points.
Brown’s struggles could be attributed to stifling Yale defense, but an ineffective bench didn’t help. The Bears bench failed to score a single point and played a total of just 12 minutes. The Bulldogs, on the other hand, had four players contribute off the bench — all played at least 11 minutes — and combined to score 11 points.
Forward Matt Mullery led the Bears with a game-high 23 points and eight rebounds, but played 38 minutes and by the end of the game he was missing shots in the paint he had been hitting throughout. Guard Peter Sullivan (14 points) played the entire contest and backcourt mate Adrian Williams (14 points) — the son of the Super Bowl MVP quarterback Doug Williams — also played 38 minutes.
Jones believed the fatigue made things easier for his team.
“I thought our bench was great,” Jones said. “Everybody scored off the bench, and having more guys than they did was helpful for our starters.”
Hindered by turnovers and suspect free-throw shooting for much of the season, the Bulldogs were able to avoid wasted possessions and take advantage of trips to the line. As a team, the Elis recorded just 10 turnovers and shot 84.2 percent (16 of 19) from the line — including several clutch free throws down the stretch from Andrews and Morin.
Although there are some things he knows his team needs to improve on — including not fouling three-point shooters, which the Bulldogs did three times — Jones said he is confident as his team looks to add extend its winning streak against the same Brown squad later this week.
“I feel like we’re getting better and I think that we have better team chemistry,” Jones said. “I think we have a better understanding of what we’re trying to do on both ends of the floor. As long as we can keep that, we can certainly be competitive.”
The two teams meet again on Friday in the final of the home-and-home series. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.