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Offense Shines In Key Ivy Victory Over Columbia

Blake Reynolds (Don Clark photo)
Blake Reynolds (Don Clark photo)

Bulldogs Notch 27 Assists On 31 Field Goals

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale put on an offensive clinic Friday against Columbia. And it was a good thing because the Bulldogs needed just about every one of the 88 points they scored. Miye Oni led five players in double figures as Yale earned a very important 88-84 victory over the Lions before a highly entertained crowd at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The Bulldogs (10-13, 3-4 Ivy) shot 52.5 percent from the field and had a remarkable 27 assists on 31 field goals.

After struggling offensively in last Saturday's loss at Penn, Yale spent the week working on its spacing.

"It was a really big point of emphasis," said Trey Phills, who had 14 points, six rebounds and three assists.

And clearly the message was well received. The Bulldogs committed just nine turnovers and made 14 three-pointers.

"I was very impressed with how we shared the ball," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "Our guys are selfless."

There were contributions in a number of categories from a number of players. In addition to his 17 points, Oni had seven rebounds and six assists. Blake Reynolds scored 11 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had six assists, while Alex Copeland added 11 points, including going 8-of-8 from the foul line. He also handed out five assists.

Yale's bench also played a big role as well. Azar Swain hit four 3-pointers and had 14 points. Noah Yates added nine points and five rebounds and Wyatt Yess had six points, three rebounds, two assists and drew a charge in 16 very productive minutes.

"It was key to get contributions from everybody," Jones said. "Wyatt was ready for his opportunity as was Noah and Azar."

Despite shooting nearly 55 percent from the field, the Bulldogs found themselves trailing 47-45 at halftime. Yale, though, opened the second half with 12-2 run. The lead grew to 11, 67-56, when Yates drilled a 3-pointer with 11:58 left.

The Lions responded with a 11-1 run of their own to get right back in the game. Yale pushed the lead back to eight with five minutes left, but Columbia wouldn't go away. Kyle Castlin's 3-pointer cut the deficit to three with 2:53 remaining, and Mike Smith's pulled the Lions within 84-82 with 18 seconds left.

Copeland's two free throws had the lead back at four, but Smith answered with another layup. Copeland, though, sealed the victory by making two more free throws with 13 seconds remaining.

"Alex hit some big free throws," Jones said.

Gabe Stefanini paced Columbia with 17 points off the bench. Lukas Meisner added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Smith, who entered the night averaging 17.4 points, was limited to 11, thanks mostly to a stellar defensive effort from Phills.

"It's tough to guard a quick, 5-10 guard," Phills said. "I was just trying to limit his easy [baskets] and get the ball out of his hands."

At the mid-point of the Ivy League season, the Bulldogs sit in a five-way tie for third place at 3-4, joining Brown, Princeton, Cornell and Columbia. The top four finishers in the regular season earn a spot in the Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra in March.

NOTES: The Bulldogs had the lead for nearly 35 minutes in the game… Yale has now won nine of the last 10 meetings with Columbia at Lee Amphitheater… The Lions shot 52.3 percent from the field and were 11-of-22 from 3-point range… Yale is back home on Saturday, hosting Cornell at 7 p.m. The Big Red knocked off Brown 78-60 on Friday.

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