Battle Of Bulldogs At Bryant

Austin Williams (Steve Musco photo)
Austin Williams (Steve Musco photo)

Fourth Straight Road Game For Yale

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – It's been a busy and challenging early stretch for the Bulldogs, who travelled more than 7,600 miles during the first two weeks of the season, playing five games against teams that currently have a 23-7 (.767) combined record. Next up is a shorter journey to Smithfield, Rhode Island, to meet the Bryant Bulldogs on Wednesday. Tipoff at the Chace Athletic Center is slated for 7 p.m., and NECFront Row has the video.

Yale has a pair of impressive victories on its resume – at Washington in the season opener and an overtime win over Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh in its only home game.

The Bulldogs are coming off a heartbreaking 67-65 loss at perennial America East contender Vermont on Saturday. Yale rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit to take a two-point lead in the final two minutes only to watch the Catamounts notch the winning basket with one second left.

Four players average double figures in scoring, led by senior Sam Downey at 14.6 ppg. Miye Oni (14.4 ppg.), Blake Reynolds (13.4 ppg.) and Alex Copeland (13.2 ppg.) are the others.

Oni, a freshman, is off to a strong start to his career. He was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the third straight week on Monday after averaging 16 points and 8.5 rebounds in games against Pitt and Vermont. The last Ivy player to start his career with three straight rookie of the week selections was Cornell's Shonn Miller in 2011-12.

Yale leads the Ivy League in offensive rebounding (12.8 per game) and received a boost on Saturday when freshman forward Jordan Bruner made his debut after missing the first four games with an injury. Bruner had eight points and five rebounds, including three on the offensive end, in 17 minutes.

Bryant is the first of three games for the Bulldogs against Northeast Conference opponents. The others are Sacred Heart (Dec. 8) and Central Connecticut (Dec. 13).

After Bryant, the Bulldogs have three of their next four games in the friendly confines of the John J. Lee Amphitheater where they have won 15 straight games dating back to the 2014-15 season. The only road game during the stretch will be the short trip to Sacred Heart.

HISTORY LESSON

Yale and Bryant are playing for the ninth time with Yale holding a 6-2 edge in the series. Last year at Lee Amphitheater, Sam Downey scored 16 points and had seven rebounds as Yale cruised to a 79-40 win, outscoring Bryant 43-16 in the second half. A majority of the other games between the teams have been closer. Two years ago in Smithfield, Yale edged Bryant 67-60. Yale is 3-1 at the Chace Athletic Center.

SCOUTING BRYANT

Like Yale, Bryant is coming off a last-second loss. Tavon Blackmon's driving layup with 3.8 seconds left lifted Brown to a 91-90 victory over the Bulldogs on Monday night in Providence.  Nisre Zouzoua scored 31 points to pace Bryant, and Adam Grant added 20. Zouzoua leads the team in scoring at 23.0 ppg., while Grant averages 16.3 ppg.

Bryant (2-5) also has played a challenging schedule and travelled throughout the country. The Bulldogs have losses at Notre Dame, at Gonzaga and at Northwestern and also took part in the Legends Classic at Eastern Washington. Bryant has played only one home game, a win over Salve Regina on Nov. 15.

There are a couple of familiar faces on the Bryant sidelines. Tim O'Shea, who is in his ninth year as head coach, spent two years as an assistant coach at Yale under Dick Kuchen. In addition, associate head coach Happy Dobbs is a former Brown head coach.

Report filed by Tim Bennett (timothy.bennett@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity