The men’s basketball team is hoping to complete a sweep of Brown this weekend in the second stage of their home-and-home series after a dominant performance last weekend to open the Ivy League season.
The Bulldogs (12–6, 1–0 Ivy) outclassed Brown (9–9, 0–1) in Providence last Saturday, topping the Bears in nearly every facet of the game en route to an 80–62 victory. Following such a solid performance, the experienced Yale squad’s main focus is not to let its foot off the gas pedal or become complacent this time around.
“It’s always hard playing a team twice in a row,” guard Javier Duren ’15 said. “We’ve been really cognizant of how we’re preparing for them and not being content in winning the first game because we know Brown is going to come out on Saturday and give it their all.”
Yale held Brown to a 37.7 shooting percentage from the field and 20.8 percent from behind the arc in a stout defensive display. The Bears, who have three of the Ivy League’s six best individual rebounders, also lost the battle of the boards, 45–37.
The Elis also took care of the ball well, recording 12 assists to just nine turnovers, well below their season average of 13.5 turnovers a game. They also effectively got into the lane all night, drawing 27 fouls for 37 free throw attempts, which included 16 attempts from forward Justin Sears ’16 alone. For reference, the Brown players as a whole only attempted 18 shots from the charity stripe.
Duren led all scorers with 19 points and added 10 rebounds for his first career double-double, leading to Ivy League Player of the Week honors for the third time this season. Sears also posted a double-double, racking up 15 points and 11 rebounds, placing him on the league’s honor roll.
The Bulldogs will look to replicate last weekend’s balanced attack, when four players — Duren, Sears, guard Jack Montague ’16 and guard Makai Mason ’18 — scored in double figures.
Forward Matt Townsend ’15, who chipped in six points and four rebounds in addition to noteworthy defense in the post, said that the team’s balance can largely be attributed to the team’s growing sense of unselfishness.
“Our coach likes to say when we, as a team, get to a point where no one cares about the numbers in the box score, then we’ll go from a team to a great team,” Townsend said. “I think we took a step towards that last weekend and hopefully we’ll take more steps in that direction.”
Defensively, the Elis will continue to focus on limiting Brown’s success in the lane, where the Bears scored 34 of its 62 points in the conference opener.
Forward Rafael Maia made his presence felt with 16 points and 12 boards for the Bears, and forward Leland King continued to lead Brown in scoring, tallying 18 points last game.
However, neither player was hitting on all cylinders at the same time as the other. Maia only contributed two points in the first half, while King could only manage five in the second half.
As far as added motivation to defend Brown’s post players, a statement made by Brown head coach Mike Martin helped fuel Yale’s big men.
“Our coach had told us that in the Ivy League media conference with the coaches that [Martin] said that they had the best frontcourt in the league,” Sears said. “Our coaches challenged all the post players to try and prove them wrong to show we’re the more dominant big men and everyone took that to heart.”
That dominance down low was further emphasized by the practically absent play of Brown forward Cedric Kuakumensah, the two-time reigning Ivy Defensive Player of the Year. Although he averages nearly 12 points a game to go along with seven rebounds, the junior managed only five points and three boards in the first matchup against Yale.
A win for the Elis would not only make for a strong start to their quest for an Ivy League championship, but it would also leave Brown, which had hopes of making some noise during Ivy play, in the cellar of the conference standings.
“Right now Brown is playing for its championship life,” Jones said. “Going down 0–2 in our league makes it very difficult to try and win a championship, which we all aspire to do.”
Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow at John J. Lee Amphitheater, where the Bulldogs have defeated the Bears in four consecutive outings.