Everything was coming up Brown Friday night at Lee Amphitheater, as the Bears – who haven’t had a winning Ivy League record in nine seasons – were going to take a giant step toward that (and qualifying for the inaugural conference tournament) by ending Yale’s 20-game, 2-year long home win streak.
Brown was scoring at will, had plenty of swagger, Mike Martin was pumping his fists, the Yale crowd was quiet, and the Bears led 60-51 and had the ball with 10 minutes left, and there was nothing on either end of the floor that looked like a young Yale team was going to be to remedy the matter quickly.
But somewhere off stage, a switch was flipped and the game turned on its head. A Brown team that was shooting close to 60 percent from the field went 10 minutes without a field goal. Steven Spieth, who looked every bit the Ivy League Player of the Year in waiting for the first half, couldn’t make anything, even from the free throw line, where he was an 88.4% shooter.
At the other end, Anthony Dallier, whose career high was 15 entering Friday and had just one Ivy League three-pointer in his first two YEARS of play at Yale, couldn’t miss from anywhere, draining a couple of huge three pointers and finishing 15-18 from the free throw line, doubling his career high with 30 points.
“I’m trying to do each night what the team needs, and some other guys just didn’t have it going tonight for whatever reason. I did a good job of drawing some fouls and knocking down open shots when they came to me,” Dallier said.
In the end, it was a 20-1 run with a raucous crowd behind them that pushed the home win streak to 21 (fifth longest nationally) for Yale with an 85-75 win, and once again left Brown – who controlled much of the game last week before falling 75-74 – wondering what it has to do to beat the Bulldogs.
“They’re a really good offensive team,” Yale (11-6, 3-1) coach James Jones said. “That’s what they do. They have a perimeter 4 man in Spieth who can stretch the floor and make it hard on our guys and he did. He only got 5 free throws, though. They create matchup problems and they’re very efficient. Jordan is excellent at protecting the rim, he’s better than (Justin) Sears already in terms of what he’s averaging for blocks (Bruner is up to 14th nationally after his performance Friday). He has great timing and he changes things defensively because of that.”
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As we’ve repeatedly talked about this season, there is very little left from last year’s historic Yale team that shattered just about every record the school has. But they march on, even on nights where guards Miye Oni and Alex Copeland combine for just 15 points and they get only 4 offensive rebounds (16.7%) against a poor rebounding opponent.
“We just talked about staying together,” Dallier said. “There was a lot of time left, and we just needed to correct a few things that we were doing wrong and keep fighting.”
What else did we learn in New Haven Friday night?:
- Enter Anthony Dallier and Trey Phills
Prior to Jack Montague getting dismissed from Yale last season, Dallier’s career high in minutes was 22 and he had scored in double figures exactly once, ironically in a home loss to Vermont in January of 2014, his freshman year. But he rose to the challenge last season in big games, and took advantage of an aggressive Brown defense to not only score 30 points, but add 7 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals. He’s not a natural point guard and did have 7 turnovers Friday, but he has played the part of a senior captain extremely well this season, and perfectly in the second half against Brown.
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Meanwhile, Trey Phills also took advantage of Brown (10-10, 1-3) really hawking the ball to get a career high 16 points, mostly driving to the basket (9-9 from the foul line). The Yale coaches love his defense, and with the way the game was played, Phills went 30 minutes, while Alex Copeland got only 17. Next week, it might flip, but a confident Phills can only serve to help Yale going forward.
“We’re been on the road for a little while, so people were just excited for us to be home,” Phills said. “They (the crowd) expect a lot because we haven’t lost in a long time, and they were awesome.”
2) Chance lost, but confidence gained?
Brown was the better team for 32 minutes, so it creates a half empty, half full argument for the Bears. The completeness of the collapse was jarring, Brown made just 1 of 18 shots at one point, and most of them weren’t close as Yale’s crowd got louder and lead got larger in a hurry. Spieth (22 pts., 10 rebs.), Obi Okolie (18 pts.), and Tavon Blackmon (16 pts.) has previously looked all but unstoppable, but once the switch flipped, found more shots getting swatted by Jordan Bruner and Miye Oni then reaching the rim.
On the full side, though, Brown has now lost to Princeton and Yale twice, and looks extremely capable of competing with everyone (except maybe Princeton) in the Ivy League. The race for fourth is wide open, and the Bears already have a road win over Penn on their resume. Their defense was very good at times when they weren’t fouling, forcing 17 turnovers (22.7%), and holding Oni, Copeland, and Blake Reynolds to really poor offensive nights. So, as bad as this one hurt with the history and big lead, there is still hope.
“We did a lot of good things for 35 minutes last week, but you have to play 40 to win against a good team,” Martin said. “I like our team. I like a lot of what we do. We just have to keep working. There’s a lot of basketball to be played. I’m confident that we’re resilient and we’ll learn from this.”
3) Game plans and adjustments
It’s always interesting when the Ivy League has its back-to-back games to see what adjustments are made by the respective coaches. Martin had the lead in the chess battle with his aggression on the ball, forcing people like Dallier and Oni to try to get the hoop and cutting off open three-pointers. Brown normally gets the foul line a ton (5th nationally), but didn’t have to because it shot the ball so well.
But then James Jones went to a 1-3-1 of all things with Bruner on the top, causing a couple of turnovers and missed three-pointers, that seemed to turn the tide. Bruner (6 blocks) didn’t let anything in easy near the rim, and although Martin wasn’t terribly happy with a 36-12 free throw discrepancy, Yale gave a scary vision of things to come for Ivy opponents with Bruner and Oni sending Brown shot attempts all over Lee Amphitheater.
— IvyLeagueBasketball (@Ivy_Basketball) January 28, 2017
“They went 1-3-1 and it slowed us down and seemed to get us a little out of rhythm,” Martin said. “They only played it a few possessions, but we were getting pretty much anything we wanted before that. Even when we got good shots after that, they didn’t go in, so you have to give them a lot of credit for their defense in the second half. We got outscored 30-7 at the foul line and I think that’s a huge stat in the game.”
Said Jones: “I thought the 1-3-1 with a big momentum changer because we couldn’t stop them scoring the ball, and we were very fortunate that they missed some shots and we got the rebounds. When we went back to man, they weren’t as aggressive and we got more aggressive. We got the momentum going, the crowd going, the dunk by Miye, it all came together.”