Courtesy of Steve Musco
Even darkness could not stop the Yale men’s basketball team from continuing its electric start in conference play. Although Saturday night’s game at Cornell was postponed to Sunday due to a widespread power outage in Ithaca, the Bulldogs grabbed sole possession of second place in the Ivy League standings with two victories this weekend.
The Elis (13–6, 5–1 Ivy) followed up an 87–78 victory over Columbia (10–9, 4–2) on Friday night with a 78–71 win at Cornell (6–15, 2–4) on Sunday. Both opponents received 20-plus performances from their big men, but the Bulldogs extended their win streak to four games as points came from a variety of scorers. The Elis had four players in double figures in both victories.
“On any night, anyone can step up and play well,” head coach James Jones said. “That’s been our consistency: the number of guys that step up every night.”
Yale maintained its clutch play down the stretch, shooting a combined 85.2 percent from the free throw line in its two games. Guards Trey Phills ’19 and Miye Oni ’20 combined for a perfect 16-for-16 from the charity stripe in New York City.
Two weeks removed from a 31-point performance against Cornell, Columbia forward Luke Petrasek scored 24 points against Yale on Friday night. But the Bulldogs tightened their defense on Petrasek and the Columbia big men in the second half, allowing just four offensive rebounds after giving up 10 in the first 20 minutes.
“We did a really good job of not letting them get where they wanted to be and get good position on us,” forward Blake Reynolds ’19 said. “We played defense with our chest and were strong down there. [Petrasek] is a really good shooter, and he is so long that even if you think you’re on him, he can shoot over you.”
Four Bulldogs had 16 or more points in the Manhattan clash. Oni led Yale with 22 points, 13 of which came in a second half in which, for the third straight game, the freshman seemed to find a second gear with 10 minutes to play and secure the Yale victory.
Phills backed up a career-high 16 points against Brown last weekend with 19 on Friday. The sophomore had scored in double figures just once this season before facing the Bears.
“It’s just being more aggressive on the offensive end,” Phills said. “One thing I’ve done all season is pride myself on defense, and I wasn’t looking to score. Shooting open shots and driving when the defense gives me that has helped me open up the scoring.”
Yale’s big men also found their shots against Columbia. Reynolds and forward Sam Downey ’17 had 18 and 16 points, respectively.
Downey picked up on Sunday where he had left off on Friday night. The senior, who started just three games before this season, dropped 10 against Cornell, his 14th game in double figures this season.
Oni led the Bulldogs in scoring for the second straight game, netting 17 points in the second half to finish with 19. Captain Anthony Dallier ’17 had 11 points while doing a little bit of everything with four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Forward Jordan Bruner ’20 bounced back from a one-point performance against Columbia: The freshman scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds coming off the bench on Sunday afternoon.
However, the performance of the day came from the Big Red as forward Stone Gettings had a career high of 28 points while wreaking havoc in the interior throughout the game. Cornell out-rebounded Yale 36–29, but the Bulldogs held the Ivy League’s leading scorer Big Red guard Matt Morgan to just 11 points on the day.
Yale plays six of its eight remaining conference games in the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater, where the Bulldogs have not lost since Feb. 21, 2015. Princeton, the top team in the Ancient Eight that handed Yale its lone conference loss, still has to travel to New Haven on Feb. 17.
The Elis return home next weekend, facing Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday. Harvard sits at 4–2 in the Ancient Eight, having lost in the last seconds to Princeton this past weekend. Both tip-offs are scheduled for 7 p.m.