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Comeback Falls Short Vs. Columbia

Class of 2019 (Don Clark photo)
Class of 2019 (Don Clark photo)

Lions Hold Off Yale 83-75

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – Yale needed its regular season home finale to last maybe five minutes longer. The Bulldogs rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit, getting as close as five in the final three minutes, before falling 83-75 to Columbia before an enthusiastic crowd at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.

Of course, it won't be Yale's final appearance of the season in the historic arena, which is the site of the Ivy League Tournament in two weeks. The Bulldogs clinched a berth in the tournament last night and will play a semifinal game on Mar. 16.

Blake Reynolds paced five Yale players in double figures with 19 points. Alex Copeland added 15, Miye Oni scored 12 and Jordan Bruner and Azar Swain each contributed 10.

Quinton Adlesh led the Lions with 19 points and Patrick Tape scored 16.

Columbia scored the first 12 points of the game and never relinquished the lead.

The Lions shot 50 percent from the field in building a 44-31 lead at halftime and finished the game at 48.4 percent.

"We were not as good defensively as we needed to be," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs.

Yale, which has been among the national leaders in field goal percentage throughout the season, also had rare off night from the field, shooting just 38 percent.

"I thought our offense was sluggish to start the game, but I thought we got some good opportunities to start the second half," Jones said. "The shots just didn't go down."

Nevertheless, after trailing by 18 early in the second half, the Bulldogs fought back and closed to within five, 70-65, on Swain's three-pointer with 2:53 left.

Adlesh then hit with the biggest shot of the game, a three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining that stretched the lead back to eight.

The Lions then made their free throws from there to seal the win.

It was the final regular season game in Lee Amphitheater for Yale's four seniors – Reynolds, Copeland, Trey Phills and Thomas Ryan. The four were honored before the opening tip. During their careers, Yale has won 76 games and posted a 40-13 record in Ivy League play. They have a chance to graduate as the winningest class in school history. Anthony Dallier and Sam Downey, Class of 2017, were a part of 81 victories.

"It's been a great run with this group of young men. I'm very thankful to have coached them," Jones said. "It's a little weird because we have so much of the season still left. There's a lot basketball still to be played, but they are a great group of young men and have meant a lot to our basketball program. I'm looking forward to seeing how they finish this chapter."

Yale (19-6, 9-3 Ivy) enters the final weekend of the regular season tied with Harvard for first-place. The Bulldogs play at Penn and Princeton next weekend, while Harvard closes out the regular season at Cornell and Columbia.

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