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Bulldogs Clinch Spot In IvyMadness, Hammer Cornell 88-65

Miye Oni (Nina Lindberg photo)
Miye Oni (Nina Lindberg photo)

Oni Scores 25 First-Half Points In Easy Victory

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale will have one more weekend in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater. Miye Oni scored 25 of his team-high 30 points in a dominant first half as Yale cruised to an 88-65 victory over Cornell and clinched a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.

The Bulldogs will play in the semifinals on Mar. 16 on their home court, the site of the tournament. Still to be determined is Yale's seed. The Bulldogs (19-5, 9-2 Ivy) remain in first place, one game ahead of Harvard and Princeton, with three regular season games remaining.

Paul Atkinson added 14 points, and Jordan Bruner and Alex Copeland each scored 13.

Yale played one of its best halves in recent memory to start the game. The Bulldogs scored the first 12 points and built a commanding 61-32 lead the intermission.

The 61 points were just five shy of the school record for points in a half.

Yale had 18 assists on its 24 field goals in the opening 20 minutes.

"Especially in the first half, I thought we were brilliant with that," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "One of the things we try to do is share the ball. When Jordan and Miye are pushing the ball in transition, it just makes us so dynamic offensively."

The Bulldogs also excelled at the other end of the floor, limiting Cornell to 42 percent shooting from the field.

"We were locked in, especially on the defensive end," Jones said. "We made everything hard for them."

Oni was almost unstoppable in the first half. He was 9-of-11 from the field, including 7-of-9 from three-point range.

"I just try to feed off my teammates," he said. "We usually try to start the game with the ball going inside and that usually sucks defenders in, and a lot of times I'm open for kick outs. It's a result of us playing as a team and moving the ball around."

Jones was a little more direct in his assessment of Oni's play.

"Miye was just ridiculous in the first half with what he was doing," he said.

While Oni was excelling on the offensive end, Trey Phills helped hold Matt Morgan, the league leader in scoring, to 11 points, more than 10 below his average and his lowest point total in the last two seasons.

Morgan scored 35 in the first meeting between the teams, a 98-92 Yale victory in Ithaca two weeks ago.

"[Trey] got a little more help in this game. Our post guys stepped up to made it harder for [Morgan] to drive it," Jones said. "Our help defense was also better. He's a really good player, and I think Trey took it personally what he scored on us last time."

The Bulldogs, who entered the night second in the nation in defensive rebounds per game, won the battle of the boards 38-35.

"We take it personally if anybody gets an offensive board on us," said Bruner, who paced the Bulldogs with nine rebounds. "That's the way Coach Jones drills it in to our mind. We take pride in getting every ball that comes off the rim."

With three games remaining in the regular season, the Bulldogs are focused on earning the Ivy League regular season title.

"Capturing the Ivy League championship is a high priority for us," Jones said. "We want that, and we try to work toward that every day."

Yale hosts Columbia in its final regular season home game on Saturday. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.

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