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Eric Monroe (Steve Musco photo)
Eric Monroe (Steve Musco photo)

Bulldogs Can Clinch Berth In Ivy Tournament With A Pair Of Victories

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NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Bulldogs enter the home stretch of the regular season in good position to earn a spot in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament. There is still work to do, however, and it starts with a trip through New England this weekend. Yale plays at Harvard on Friday and then has a Saturday night date with Dartmouth. Both games tip off at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Ivy League Digital Network, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

The Bulldogs (14-9, 6-4 Ivy) currently sit in third place, two games behind second-place Harvard and two games ahead of Penn and Columbia. The top four finishers qualify for the tournament, and Yale can clinch a spot with a pair of victories this weekend.

Yale and Harvard played a spirited affair two weeks ago at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The game featured eight ties and 12 lead changes before the Crimson escaped with a 75-67 victory. Alex Copeland had a big game for the Bulldogs, finishing with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.

Copeland, who is 10th in the Ivy League in field goal percentage (.481), is one of six Bulldogs averaging between 9.2 and 13.0 points. Copeland is second at 12.3 ppg., trailing team-leader Miye Oni (13.0 ppg.).

Oni is enjoying a strong first season at Yale. He is a five-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection and is among the top freshman scorers (fourth) and rebounders (second) in the league. Oni has scored in double figures in five of the last six games.

Oni and Jordan Bruner form one of top rookie tandems in the league. Bruner is in the top-10 in rebounding (ninth, 5.8 rpg.), field goal percentage (fourth, .524) and blocked shots (second, 47).

Yale's two seniors are also making their mark. Anthony Dallier is second in the league in assists (4.3 per game), and Sam Downey is second in the league in field goal percentage (.559) and third in rebounding (6.7 rpg.). In Ivy games, Downey is shooting 63.5 percent from the field and averaging 11.3 points and 7.9 rebounds.

As a team, the Bulldogs lead the league in field goal percentage (.465), rebounding margin (+4.0), offensive rebounds (10.4 per game) and assists (15.9 per game).

Nationally, Yale has committed the fewest fouls (369) of any team in the nation.

Yale concludes the regular season next weekend by hosting Cornell on Mar. 3 and Columbia on Mar. 4.

HISTORY LESSONS

Yale has won three straight over Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, including a 67-55 decision last year. The Crimson, though, have a chance to sweep the season series for the first time since 2013. Friday is the 197th meeting between the teams, and the Bulldogs have a 119-77 edge. The first matchup was back in 1901, a 41-16 Yale victory. The Bulldogs' 119 wins over Harvard are their most against any opponent.

Yale has won five of its last seven games at Leede Arena, including a 75-65 victory last year. The Bulldogs are looking to sweep the season series from the Big Green for the second straight year. Yale has won 19 of the last 23 meetings with Dartmouth overall and leads the all-time series 112-97. The first game between the teams came in 1900, a 10-8 Yale win in Boston.

SCOUTING HARVARD

The Crimson (16-7, 8-2 Ivy) has won four straight games and five of its last six. Bryce Aiken, who scored 27 points in the first meeting with Yale, leads the team in scoring at 14.3 ppg. Seth Towns is the only other player averaging double figures (11.5 ppg.). He was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week after averaging 20.5 points in last weekend's sweep of Columbia and Cornell. Siyani Chambers leads the Ivy League in assists at 6.0 per game. Harvard leads the Ivy League in field goal percentage defense, holding its opponents to just 40.7 percent. Harvard also leads the league with 115 blocked shots.

SCOUTING DARTMOUTH

The Big Green (6-17, 3-7 Ivy) is coming off an 80-79 overtime win over Columbia last Saturday. Taylor Johnson's driving layup with one second left in the extra period was the winning basket. The Big Green is led by Evan Boudreaux, who is tops the league in rebounding (9.3 rpg.) and is third in scoring (16.9 ppg.). He has 12 double-doubles on the season and was named the Ivy League Player of the Week after averaging 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds last weekend. Guilien Smith (12.5 ppg.) and Miles Wright (10.2 rpg.) also average double figures in scoring.

IVY SUCCESS

Over the last three seasons, the Bulldogs have a 30-8 record in Ivy League games. In addition, the Bulldogs are in good position to finish with a winning record in league play for the seventh straight season. Yale also is looking to win a third straight Ivy crown for the first time in school history.

JONES YALE'S ALL-TIME WINNINGEST IVY COACH

With three Ivy wins this season, James Jones, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, is now Yale's all-time leader with 147 Ivy League victories. He began the year tied with Hall of Fame Coach Joe Vancisin, who won 141 league games in his 19 season. Jones' 147 Ivy coaching victories are third all-time in league history, trailing only Princeton's Pete Carril and Penn's Fran Dunphy. In addition, Jones' 268 overall wins are the third most by a coach in Ivy history.

HOME SWEET HOME

Yale had its 22-game home winning streak, which at the time was the fifth longest in the nation, ended by Harvard on Feb. 11. Over the last five seasons, the Bulldogs are 48-14 in the friendly confines of Lee Amphitheater. Yale went the entire calendar year of 2016 without losing a home game.

TICKETS TO IVY TOURNAMENT ON SALE

Tickets for the Inaugural Ivy League Men's and Women's Basketball Tournaments, March 11-12 at the Palestra in Philadelphia, are currently on sale. The top four men's and women's teams will play for the Ivy League's automatic bids to the NCAA tournaments where the League has won six games over the last seven years.

Tournament books can be purchased at IvyMadness.com/tickets or by calling The Palestra box office at 215-898-615. The tournament book includes tickets to all six games across the two-day event. Prices range from $60-$120.

Single-session tickets, if available, will go on sale at a later date. Individual game tickets will not be available. 

COACHES VS. CANCER THREE-POINT CHALLENGE

Making 3-point shots this basketball season takes on even more meaning this year for Coach James Jones and the Yale men's basketball team. The Bulldogs will square off against teams across the nation to fight cancer as part of the American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge.

The Coaches vs. Cancer 3-Point Challenge allows over 200 college and high school basketball teams nationwide to use their spotlight on the court to raise money and awareness against cancer. Fans can make a pledge for each 3-point shot the Bulldogs make from February 1st – March 4th by visiting https://pledgeit.org/cvc-yale. Each donation will support the American Cancer Society's research, education and patient programs.

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