Bulldogs Power Their Way To 69-59 Victory Over Columbia

Justin Sears (photo by Alexandra Schmeling)
Justin Sears (photo by Alexandra Schmeling)

Sears Scores 22 Points To Pace Yale

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale played exactly the way it wanted Friday against Columbia. The result was certainly what the Bulldogs were looking for. Justin Sears scored 22 points as Yale powered its way to an important 69-59 victory over the Lions at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

The Bulldogs (8-9, 2-1 Ivy) exploited their size advantage, defended the perimeter well and got to the foul line - time and time again. Yale shot 47 free throws, one shy of the school record, and made 34.

"We wanted to pound it inside because we didn't think they could stop us," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "Our guards understood that it was more of a post man's game."

Armani Cotton added 13 points, Matt Townsend had 11 and Brandon Sherrod chipped in seven for the Bulldogs.

Alex Rosenberg scored 17 points to lead Columbia, which suffered its first Ivy League loss.

The Lions, who entered the game shooting a league best 40.1 percent from three-point range, were just 4-of-17 from beyond the arc.

"We had a hand there or a hand coming on most of their attempts," Jones said.

Yale led by three at halftime and increased the advantage to 12 early in the second half. Columbia fought back to within three, 55-52, with 4:30 left, but Sears answered with an alley-oop dunk off a nifty pass from Javier Duren.

The Lions (13-7, 2-1 Ivy) never got closer than four the rest of the way.

Sears finished 5-of-8 from the field and 11-of-13 from the free throw line.

"My bread butter is inside," he said. "If I go to the basket, it puts pressure on the defense."

Added Jones, "Justin can score a lot of different ways."

Jones was particularly pleased with Sears' performance on the glass. He grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as the Bulldogs outrebounded the Lions 32-23.

The Bulldogs were patient on offense throughout the game. They attempted only 11 three-pointers and had 11 assists on their 16 field goals.

"We don't want the defense to dictate what we get," Jones said. "We didn't force anything."

Both teams struggled offensively in the first half. Yale shot just 28.6 percent, while the Lions were 4-of-14 from the field (also 28.6 percent) and committed nine turnovers. The result was a 23-20 Yale lead at the break.

The Bulldogs will look to complete a perfect weekend when they host Cornell on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Big Red lost at Brown on Friday.

"We're trying to get on a winning streak and build some momentum," Sears said.

NOTES: Yale has attempted 48 free throws in a game twice, in 1956 against Army and in 1960 against Cornell… The 34 made free throws were just three shy of the school record, which was set against Fairfield in 1982… Both coaching staffs wore sneakers to support the Coaches vs. Cancer program as part of the 11th annual Suits & Sneakers weekend. By wearing sneakers, participating coaches help raise awareness about cancer and the importance that nutrition and physical activity play in reducing one's risk of the disease.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity