Bulldogs hold on against Lions

Columbia pushed Yale to the limit, but the Elis held on at the end for a key 88–84 victory in a fast-paced contest at John J. Lee Amphitheater to earn their third Ivy League victory.

Guard Miye Oni ’20 emerged from a shooting slump with 17 points alongside seven rebounds and six assists, and the Bulldogs finished with 27 assists on 31 makes from the field. The team erased memories of a paltry shooting performance against Penn by shooting at a 53 percent clip and snapped a two-game losing streak to keep pace in the Ancient Eight.

“It was really good the way we moved the ball, and a lot of it is indicative of the way [Columbia] played defense,” head coach James Jones said. “They really packed it in, so we had opportunities on the perimeter — we had a lot of open threes, and we were able to knock them down. … [Ball movement] makes all the difference in the world. It adds energy to our team, helps us defensively, so I was very impressed with what we were able to do with sharing the ball tonight.”

In an absolutely frantic first twenty minutes of play, the Lions and Elis combined for 92 points and 37 made field goals. The Yale offense seemed to be firing on all cylinders from the tip, as head coach James Jones’ team combined for 16 assists on their 18 first-half field goals.

However, the Elis were a bit loose with the ball, committing four live ball turnovers that allowed their opponents to leak out to several runaway fastbreaks. The visiting offense fed off these opportunities to put together an even more productive offensive first half to lead 47–45 at the break.

The Lions shot 61 percent from the field in the first half, including 6–9 from 3-point land. Even when Bulldog defenders were contesting shots, the visitors stepped up confidently and hit difficult attempts. It did not help that forward Paul Atkinson ’21 was whistled for two fouls within the game’s first 72 seconds, which made containing a larger Lions frontcourt more difficult.

Guard Trey Phills ’19 did a solid job in defending Mike Smith, Columbia’s leader in points and assists per game, but it was the Lions’ remaining cast that did the brunt of the damage against Yale. Gabe Stefanini led the way for Columbia with 15 points off the bench and the combination of Quinton Adlesh and Lukas Meisner tallied another 27 points against Yale.

The Elis again took over the game for portions of the second half, opening up multiple double-digit leads, but the Lions proved resilient and did not fade. After Oni hit the biggest of his five threes on the night to push Yale’s lead to six with under two minutes remaining, Meisner responded with a heave from deep that banked in off the glass.

The game remained within two possessions from there on out, but guard Alex Copeland ’19 converted four clutch free throws to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs will return to John J. Lee Amphitheater tomorrow night to take on Cornell at 7 p.m.