With three regular season games still remaining, the Yale men’s basketball team secured a shot to defend its homecourt when the Ivy League Tournament takes New Haven on March 16 and 17.
With an 88–65 win over Cornell (13–14, 5–6 Ivy) Friday night, the Bulldogs (19–5, 9–2 Ivy) clinched a spot in Ivy Madness for the third straight season. The Elis scored a season-high 61 points in the first half, guard Miye Oni ’20 dropped 30 points on seven of 10 shooting from deep and Yale’s three starting seniors — guards Alex Copeland ’19, Trey Phills ’19 and forward Blake Reynolds ’19 — contributed a combined 26 points and 16 assists one night before their last regular season game at home against Columbia on Saturday.
“I think that we were locked in, certainly,” head coach James Jones said. “We’ve had similar starts like this in games where we really shot the ball real well. We are certainly capable of doing that. Miye was just ridiculous in the first half, what he was doing and adding to that. We make twelve threes and our leading three-point shooter in terms of percentage doesn’t make one tonight. It was just a great effort by him and the rest of the team.”
As of Friday night, Yale became the first team to secure a berth in the Ancient Eight’s 2019 postseason tournament. After the win, Jones said that it is unlikely the Bulldogs will “change much” in terms of lineups or gameplans but did acknowledge that the team would recognize its senior class Saturday evening.
The matchup between Oni and Morgan drew seven seat assignments for various NBA scouts in John J. Lee’s press area, but the two guards played very different games.
Tight defense from guard Trey Phills ’19 locked Morgan down for the entirety of the opening frame. The senior, who entered the game averaging a league-high 23 points per game, scored only two points in 14 first-half minutes. After awkwardly stepping on the basket stanchion midway through the half, Morgan limped off the court and sat for a handful of minutes before returning with a little more than seven minutes to play in the opening half.
Cornell head coach Brian Earl called a timeout just three minutes and 18 seconds into the game after Yale jumped out to a 12–0 start on 5–5 shooting from the field. The Bulldogs began by attacking the inside with Reynolds and Jordan Bruner ’20 bullying defenders in the paint. Then, much to the joy of the Yale crowd, guard Miye Oni ’20 caught fire, hitting seven of his first nine shot attempts from behind the arc — and at one point shrugging in the direction of Earl after a contested corner three. The NBA prospect finished with 25 points at the half, just ten shy of his career-high.
With a shot reminiscent of last Saturday’s late heave to tie the Harvard game at 86, Yale eclipsed the sixty-point mark on a pull-up three from guard Alex Copeland ’19 that found the bottom of the net as time expired in the first half. Copeland finished the game with 13 points.
Coming out of halftime, Yale started much slower. Supplemented by poor Eli shooting, the Big Red orchestrated a 20–4 run to start the half sparked by a pair of threes from forward Jimmy Boeheim. With Oni cooling off significantly in the second half, it was up to the rest of the team to seize control. The Bulldogs did just that, improving their shooting with ball movement and maintaining control for the rest of the half. Yale ultimately assisted on 25 of 33 field goals.
Despite lock-down defense on Morgan from Phills, who even blocked one of his three-point attempts, Cornell’s own NBA prospect finished with 11 points, extending his double-digit scoring streak to an impressive 78 games.
Yale has not missed Ivy Madness since the conference instituted the four-team tournament for the 2016–17 season.
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