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Bulldogs Keep Rolling, End Regular Season With Overtime Victory Over Princeton

Yale's Class of 2018 with their families (Ernie Bertothy photo)
Yale's Class of 2018 with their families (Ernie Bertothy photo)

Yale Has Won Seven Of Last Eight Heading Into Ivy Tournament

NEW HAVEN, Conn – Another night at Lee Amphitheater, more high stakes drama. After beating Penn on Paul Atkinson's buzzer-beating layup on Friday, the Bulldogs needed overtime to knock off Princeton 94-90 and complete a sweep on the regular season's final weekend.

Now Yale can turn its full attention to next weekend's Ivy League Tournament. The Bulldogs, the No. 3 seed, face second-seeded Penn on Saturday in the second semifinal at 3 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.

The Quakers beat Brown on Saturday to earn a share of the regular season crown with Harvard, who beat Columbia. The Crimson are the No. 1 seed after the tiebreaker and play No. 4 Cornell in the first semifinal at 12:30 p.m.

There won't be a hotter team entering the tournament than the Bulldogs, who have won seven of their last eight games.

"It feels great," said Miye Oni, who had 18 rebounds, nine rebounds and five assists. "Coach has been telling us `everything we want is still in front of us.'"

It was Senior Night at Lee, but it was pair of first-year players that stole the spotlight. Azar Swain was 6-of-10 from the field, including 4-of-8 from three-point range, en route to scoring 18 points, just two shy of his career high. Friday's night's hero, Atkinson, had another big game, finishing with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting.

"Whatever we've asked Azar to do, he's come out and done," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs. "Whatever we've asked Paul to do, he's done. I can't speak more highly of those two young men."

Because of injuries, both have probably played more than was expected at the start of the season, but both have made great strides.

Yale shot 52.3 percent from the field and had four players score in double figures. Alex Copeland chipped in 16 points, including going 8-for-8 from the foul line.

Seniors Eric Anderson and Noah Yates, who were both inserted into the starting lineup also played a role in the victory. Anderson grabbed two rebounds and had two assists in nine minutes, while Yates added nine points and six rebounds in 23 minutes.

"One of the great parts of our programs is that everybody is a piece of what we do," Jones said. "They'll remember this night for the rest of their lives."

The two along with Makai Mason, who was unable play because of an injury, were honored in a pre-game ceremony.

It didn't appear the Bulldogs were going to need to work overtime for the victory. Blake Reynolds' layup with 2:41 left put Yale in front 79-71. The Tigers, though, scored the final eight points of regulation, including a Myles Stephens layup that tied it with 24 seconds left.

Oni had a chance to win it for the Bulldogs, but he missed a contested jumper in the final seconds.

Princeton took its only lead of the game, 81-79, when Amir Bell sank two free throws to open the overtime scoring.

The last of the five ties in the game came when Bell drained a 3-pointer to knot the score at 85 with 50 seconds left.

Oni, though, answered with a three-pointer from the wing to put the Bulldogs ahead for good, and Trey Phills followed with a blocked shot. Swain then hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to five.

Princeton made one last push. Devin Cannady hit a 3-pointer to pull the Tigers within two with nine seconds left, but Copeland made two free throws with six seconds left to seal the victory.

The Bulldogs were 16-of-18 from the free throw line in the game.

NOTES: Yale finished 9-5 in Ivy play for the second straight year… The Bulldogs have had a winning record in league play in each of the last eight years… In addition to Senior Night, it was also Alumni Weekend. A large contingent of former Bulldogs returned and played a spirited alumni game earlier in the day. In addition, Butch Graves '84, Yale's 2018 Legend Of Ivy League Basketball, was recognized during the game… In addition to the three players, senior managers Nadar Rastegar and Jesse Opoku were honored prior to tip… The loss eliminated Princeton from contention for the Ivy Tournament. The way the night played out, the Tigers would have qualified with a victory.

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