Yale Holds Off Harvard In Ivy League Tourney, Will Face Princeton Sunday

Yale freshman Miye Oni used the word passive to describe his play the first two times he played against Harvard this season.

Those were regular season games and the Crimson won both.

This one was different.

"I wanted to come out and try to set the tempo for this game and you know in a tournament atmosphere we need to get our guys going, get aggressive, get to the rim, so that's what I tried to do to start the game," said Oni, a 6 foot 4 guard from Porter Ranch, Calif., who played at Suffield Academy.

The third time was indeed the charm for Oni and the No. 3 seed Bulldogs, who turned back the second-seeded Crimson 73-71 in the second semifinal of the inaugural Ivy League Tournament Saturday at the Palestra behind Oni's team-leading 18 points, including 13 in the first half to jump start Bulldogs (18-10).

Oni, a second-team All-Ivy pick, splashed a three-pointer to open the game for Yale, which also turned in one of its most consistent offensive and defensive efforts of the season and as a result led for all but the 2 minutes, 6 seconds in which the game was tied.

It couldn't have come at a better time.

Yale, the No.3 seed, will face No. 1 seed Princeton, 22-6 and winners of 18 in a row, the second longest streak in the country –Vermont is No.1 with 21 straight – on Sunday at noon on ESPN2. The winner gets the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Princeton beat No.4 Penn 72-64 in overtime in the first semifinal.

"I think we played more of Yale basketball in a lot of ways today," Bulldogs coach James Jones said. "We didn't have as many assists (12) as I'd like to see on the sheet but we did do a job rebounding (Harvard 46-43) and defensing guys and getting stops and offensively we ran our motion well enough to get a lot of stuff off of it."

Post stuff? You bet. All-Ivy honorable mention senior forward Sam Downey (Jones took an opportunity to voice how he thought Downey was better than that) scored 11 of his 13 in the second half and grabbed eight of his 10 rebounds during that time, too. Downey has had success against Harvard with 15 points in each game but freshman Jordan Bruner may have had his best game next to him around the rim with 11 points and eight rebounds. Bruner had seven and four in the first half and got up like a cornerback to rob Harvard freshman and Yale destroyer Bryce Aiken (game-high 28 points) from getting a cross-court pass and one last look for the potential win with eight seconds left.

Aiken was already in the midst of carrying the Crimson with 27- and 22-point games during the regular season before that play, a snapshot of the defensive effort the Bulldogs gave for much of the game.

Harvard shot an incredibly bad 27 of 77 from the field. That's right 77 shots. They were also 9 of 36 from three.

"Our shooting percentages were just awful," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "It's going to be very hard to win a game like this when you don't shoot the ball better than what we did this afternoon."

The Crimson's poor shooting combined with Yale's good defense allowed the Bulldogs to build 10-point leads in the first half before settling on a 38-30 advantage at the break, the third time Yale led Harvard at the half this season. Yale led by 13 – 45-32 – with 17:30 to play but by no more than six points in the final 8-plus minutes.

Oni had five points in the second half. His last three were just as emphatic as the first three. After an Aiken jumper pulled Harvard to within 68-66 with 1:55 to play. Oni responded with a drive down the middle, dunk with the foul. When he hit the free throw Yale was up 71-66 with 1:31 to go. Aiken hit a three after that missed but missed his next two attempts from long range.

Princeton 72, Penn 64 OT: Myles Stevens had 21 points and 10 rebounds and the Tigers extended the nation's second-longest winning streak by outscoring Penn 13-5, including the first nine points of overtime. Stephens' tip-in with six seconds left tied the score at 59 and forced the OT. Devin Cannady had 12 points and 11 rebounds and added Amir Bell added 16 for Princeton. Ryan Betley had 18 points and Matt Howard 17 for Penn (13-15).

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