Yale men hang on to best Brown at home, 81-78

Yale sophomore guard Bez Mbeng drew the assignment of guarding Kino Lilly Jr. in the Bulldogs’ win over Brown Monday. Lilly scored 28 points in 35 minutes, but Mbeng often draws the toughest assignment on defense. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

Yale men’s basketball needed a strong performance from a shot-maker against Brown.

Junior guard August Mahoney provided that spark with a team-high 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting, including 4-for-5 shooting from deep, helping will Yale to an 81-78 victory over Brown in a near must-win situation at John J. Lee Amphitheater Monday.

“I know my shots are going to fall,” Mahoney said.

Brown (9-9, 2-3) trailed by as many as six in the first stanza but came back to grab a 29-27 lead at the half, hitting on seven treys.

It was a see-saw struggle.

The Bulldogs opened up the second half on a 12-4 run to lead by 11, 51-40. Brown responded with a 15-2 run and went up 65-61. Yale clawed back and Brown led 75-72 with 1:58 remaining when Mahoney hit a key three to knot the score.

Yale went on a nine-point run and led by six with 11 seconds remaining. Sophomore guard Kino Lilly Jr., who rung up a game-high 28 points, hit a three. But Yale held on for the win moments later.

Sophomore guard Bez Mbeng drew the assignment of guarding Lilly and picked up two quick fouls, causing him to sit out for the last 12 minutes of the first half. Mbeng fouled out with just under a minute remaining in the game. The Potomac, Md. native always draws the assignment of guarding the top guard.

”He’s going to be in jeopardy (of fouling out) every time we go out,” coach James Jones said of Mbeng.

“Both teams competed and battled hard,” Brown coach Mike Martin said.

The win was Yale’s seventh straight over Brown.

Senior forward Isaiah Kelly contributed 14 points in just 17 minutes for Yale.

The Bulldogs are next in action on Saturday at home against Penn and Brown host Columbia on Saturday. In a scheduling quirk, Yale played no home games in December and had only one road game in January – a loss at Cornell.