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Princeton Holds Off Yale In First Ivy League Tournament Championship Game

Alex Copeland (Steve Musco photo)
Alex Copeland (Steve Musco photo)

Copeland Paces Bulldogs With 14 Points

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Yale's quest to return to the NCAA Tournament came up just short. Myles Stephens scored 23 points to lead Princeton to a hard-fought 71-59 victory over the Bulldogs in the Ivy League Tournament championship game at the Palestra.

Yale led for a majority of the first half before the Tigers seized control midway through the second half.

Alex Copeland scored 14 points to pace the Bulldogs. Sam Downey added 12 points, and Jordan Bruner had 11.

Yale finished a very successful season with an 18-11 overall record, despite graduating three starters from last year's team that won the Ivy League title and beat Baylor in the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs also overcame the loss of last year's leading scorer Makai Mason, who suffered a season-ending injury one week before the opener at Washington back in November.

"I'm extremely proud of my team, and where they got us – to this game and to 20 minutes left with a great opportunity to win," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs.

The Tigers (23-6) have won 19 straight games, the second longest active streak in the nation, and will play Notre Dame as the Ivy League's representative in the NCAA Tournament.

The Bulldogs certainly didn't make it easy on a Princeton team that finished 14-0 in the regular season. Yale led by seven, 23-16, with 7:05 left in the first half before the Tigers heated up from the field, particularly downtown.

By halftime Princeton had a 31-29 lead, and the Tigers shot 52.7 percent from the field over the final 20 minutes, including going 7-of-14 from three-point range.

"We had some missed assignments and did a poor job staying attached to our men," Jones said.

The Bulldogs also went cold from the field, shooting just 34.8 percent in the second half.

"We had an off night shooting," Jones said.

Steven Cook (15 points), and Devin Cannady (13) also had big games for the Tigers. In addition, Ivy League Player of the Year Spencer Weisz contributed seven points and eight assists.

Despite the loss, the future looks very bright for what was a young Yale squad. Downey and Anthony Dallier are the only two seniors, although they will both be missed.

"They were terrific as leaders and as players," Jones said.

The two helped lead the Bulldogs to 82 wins over the last four years, making them the winningest class in the modern era of Yale Basketball.

"It was a wild ride," said Downey, who earned honorable mention All-Ivy recognition but probably deserved better as Jones pointed out in his post-game press conference following Saturday's win over Harvard. "It has been a really awesome experience."

NOTES: Barring an invitation to the NIT, which appears to be a long shot, Yale's season is over. The Bulldogs elected not to accept a bid to any of the other postseason tournaments… The Bulldogs had a short turnaround for the championship game. Their semifinal victory over Harvard ended close to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night and an hour was lost to daylight savings time prior to Sunday's noon tip… Dallier finished with seven points, six rebounds and two assists in what was likely his final game… Trey Phills scored nine points, while Blake Reynolds and Miye Oni both had three points.

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