-->

Copeland’s Career Night Lifts Bulldogs Over Lehigh

Alex Copeland (photo courtesy of Justin LaFleur)
Alex Copeland (photo courtesy of Justin LaFleur)

Scores 25 Points As Yale Earns Impressive Road Victory

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Yale's 86-77 victory over Lehigh on Wednesday featured a little bit of everything. The Bulldogs raced out to an early 31-12 lead, watched the Mountain Hawks storm back and go ahead by seven early in the second half and then executed near flawlessly down the stretch to earn perhaps their most impressive win of the season.

Alex Copeland was the catalyst. He scored a career-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting, including a huge basket in the final minute that helped seal the win. Miye Oni added 21 points and Blake Reynolds scored 17.

Yale (6-5) shot 53.6 percent from the field and had 21 assists on 30 field goals.

It looked like it might be an easy night for the Bulldogs early. Azar Swain's layup had them in front by 19 just 12 minutes into the game. Then, the momentum changed in a hurry. The Mountain Hawks outscored Yale 30-8 over the final eight minutes of the first half.

The run continued into the second half, and a James Kamik layup gave Lehigh its biggest lead, 49-42, with 16:45 left.

"We're not 20 points better than [Lehigh]," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs of the early advantage. "They made a push, and we were able to meet it."

And they did it in a hurry, scoring 11 straight points. Yale pushed the lead to seven before the Mountain Hawks rallied again to tie the score at 75 with two minutes left.

An Oni three-pointer from the baseline put the Bulldogs ahead for good, and after Lehigh's Kahron Ross missed a trey, Copeland hit the biggest shot of the game, a fade away jumper in the lane.

"The shot clock was winding down, and it was like I was in the backyard shooting with my dad when I was a kid," Copeland said. "I let it go and hoped it went in."

Copeland and Swain each hit two free throws in the final 17 seconds to secure the victory.

"It's nice to get a win on the road, especially with a young team," Jones said.

While Yale's offense was efficient throughout the game, it was the defense down the stretch that made the difference.

"We did a better job keeping them in front of us," Jones said.

Reynolds, who had a tough night shooting in Saturday's loss at TCU, responded with a very solid game. He was 6-of-9 from the field and made all four of his free throws.

"I got a couple of easy looks at the start and that got me going," Reynolds said. "The plan was to get the ball inside."

Paul Atkinson added eight points and six rebounds for the Bulldogs, who have won three of their last four games. Swain and Noah Yates each had five points. Eric Monroe didn't score but had a team-high six assists and just one turnover in 23 minutes.

Ross scored 19 points to lead Lehigh, which won at Princeton earlier this season and reached the championship game of the Patriot League Tournament last year.

NOTES: Swain made his first career start for the Bulldogs… Yale outrebounded the Mountain Hawks 35-31… It was the second straight entertaining game between the teams. Last year at Lee Amphitheater, the Bulldogs edged Lehigh 89-81 in overtime. Yale has won three straight over the Mountain Hawks and leads the all-time series 10-8… The Bulldogs are back on the road on Saturday, playing at St. Bonaventure at 2 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

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