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Bulldogs Roll Over Kennesaw State 89-74

Trey Phills (Evan Ellis photo)
Trey Phills (Evan Ellis photo)

Oni, Atkinson Combine For 42 Points

KENNESAW, Ga. – Yale ended 2017 with a flourish. The Bulldogs shot 61 percent from the field and had 22 assists on 37 field goals in an impressive 89-74 victory over Kennesaw State before a crowd of 1,200 at the KSU Convocation Center that included a number of Yale supporters.

"We played together as much as we have all season," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs.

Miye Oni and Paul Atkinson combined for 42 points. Oni flirted with a triple double, finishing with 22 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, while Atkinson continued his stellar shooting. He was 10-of-12 from the field en route to scoring 20 points. Over his last four games, Atkinson, who leads the Ivy League in field goal percentage, is shooting 90 percent (18-of-20).

"I've had a lot of help from my teammates," said Atkinson, the only Bulldog to start all 15 games. "I just try to finish off their passes."

Atkinson, a first-year player, is clearly becoming more comfortable with the college game.

"Defensively has been the biggest change [from high school]," he said. "I've been getting used to a more physical game."

Atkinson and Oni had plenty of support. First year Azar Swain scored 14 points. Trey Phills also had a solid game, scoring 10 points, grabbing three rebounds and blocking three shots in 35 minutes.

"It was nice to have Trey play like he is capable of," Jones said.

Noah Yates added nine points, and Blake Reynolds, who was battling an ankle injury suffered in practice on Wednesday, contributed eight points and five rebounds.

Tyler Hooker led Kennesaw State (3-11) with 23 points.

The Bulldogs (7-8) seized control with a near flawless first half. Yale shot 58.8 percent and limited the Owls to 44 percent in building a 46-30 lead. Atkinson and Swain combined for 22 of Yale's 46 points. Atkinson did his damage in the paint, while Swain hit 4-of-5 three-pointers.

"They really got us going," Jones said. "It was nice to have two [first years] contributing."

Jones, though, was most pleased with the defensive effort.

"We saw some improvement," he said. "That is a key for us as we prepare for the start of Ivy League play."

Offensively, the Bulldogs did an outstanding job sharing and moving the ball.

"We had a 5-on-5 mindset," Atkinson said. "That helped us attack them, and they couldn't really stop us."

Kennesaw State made one push in the second half, cutting the deficit to seven with 10:39 left, but Yale responded with a 12-4 run, capped by an Atkinson layup, to regain control.

NOTES: The teams were playing for the first time. Kennesaw State is scheduled to come to New Haven next year to meet the Bulldogs on the day before Thanksgiving… Yates made his first career start. In addition to his nine points, he contributed four assists… Yale outrebounded the Owls 32-23… The Bulldogs had the lead for all but 12 seconds of the game… Kennesaw State is coached by Al Skinner, who guided Boston College to six NCAA Tournament appearances in 13 seasons… Yale flew back to New Haven following the game. The Bulldogs will return to Atlanta next Thursday and play at Georgia Tech next Saturday at 7 p.m.

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