Eli offense comes to life in second Ivy win

The Yale men’s basketball team sputtered out of the gates in front of its home fans for the second straight night. Facing Dartmouth on the heels of a two-point loss to Harvard, the Bulldogs seemed to be feeling the effects of playing their first back-to-back of the season.

For long stretches of the game, the Elis struggled to get into a rhythm, and the Big Green were within three points as late as the 2:49 mark. But without forward Blake Reynolds ’19, it was the two-headed attack of guards Trey Phills ’19 and Alex Copeland ’19 that gave Yale the edge, 74–64 at the Lee Amphitheater.

“Today, we were much better at moving the ball, sharing it,” head coach James Jones said. “We didn’t hit our benchmark with assists, but we had some driving lanes, and Alex and Trey took advantage of those.”

Copeland came to life in the second half, exploding for a much-needed 17 points in the final 20 minutes. He got to the rim at will and put pressure on Dartmouth’s defense on a night when guards scored all but six of Yale’s points. Reynolds strained his hamstring stretching before the Harvard game but played through the injury last night. Head coach James Jones learned minutes before tip-off tonight that Reynolds would be sidelined.

After a slow start, the explosive play of Phills ignited a hapless Eli offense and turned a five-point deficit into a 36–31 lead by halftime. Phills’s relentless attacks on the rim sparked the offense and reminded them of the efficient style of play they had cultivated in the early part of the season. Behind 11 points and two assists from the junior guard, Yale shot 16–28 in the first half and tallied assists on nine of these 16 makes.

The Bulldogs rode this momentum to their second Ivy victory of the season, but the Big Green did not make it easy. Dartmouth tailed the Elis closely throughout the second half, refusing to concede to the hosts. Guard Taylor Johnson led the Big Green with 15 points, and three other players also scored in double figures.

After two straight games shooting 3–13 from the field, guard Miye Oni ’20 again struggled for much of the night,  as Yale relied on Copeland and Phills to lead the offense. But when Oni was mired in a 3–9 shooting performance, he then connected on his next three shots — all three-pointers — to rejuvenate both personal and his team’s scoring swagger.

Yale evened its conference record to 2–2 with the win and will next travel to Princeton and Penn for showdowns with the top teams in the Ivy League.