No. 2 Yale men’s basketball nips No. 4 Brown, 62-61, in instant classic to win Ivy Leagye

NEW YORK –  By the slimmest of margins, Yale eked past Brown to win the Ivy League Tournament in an instant classic at Levien Gym Sunday afternoon.

No. 2 Yale (22-9, 13-3 Ivy) triumphed, 62-61, over No. 4 Brown (13-18, 9-7) by virtue of a lay-in by senior forward Matt Knowling off an assist from junior guard Bez Mbeng as time expired, capping a comeback that seemed improbable when Yale trailed 60-54 with 27 seconds left.

That Brown lead came off two free throws by junior guard Kino Lilly Jr. before Mbeng answered with an old-fashioned three-point play to cut the favorites’ deficit to 60-57.

After a 1-for-2 trip to the foul line by junior forward Nana Owusu-Anane, Yale junior guard John Poulakidas hit a contested, off-balance trey to trim the Brown lead to 61-60.

Brown sophomore forward Kalu Anya missed two free throws with 10 seconds left, setting up Knowling’s buzzer-beater inside.

“The fact that the last basket was scored off an assist on a kid trying to make a play for someone else is just so meaningful for me as a coach,” Yale coach James Jones said.

“I wanted to put myself near the basket to clean up any misses,” Knowling said. “I practice that shot every day.”

Yale senior guard August Mahoney hit two three-pointers in the final 2:08 to keep the Bulldogs in the game. Mahoney wasn’t surprised Knowling delivered when given the opportunity.

“Matt is making that shot 10 out of 10 times,” Mahoney said.

Yale led 26-22 at the half in a defensive struggle, outrebounding Brown 21-19 for the half after having been outrebounded 39-26 by Brown in a three-point loss to the Bears last Saturday.

Yale went up by 41-35 with 11:55 remaining.

Brown then chipped away and took a 46-44 lead on an Anya lay-in, later extending its edge to 58-54 on an 8-footer from Lilly, who more than held his own against Mbeng, the Ivy Defensive Player of the Year, with a game-high 21 points on 7-for-15 shooting, three assists and just two turnovers in 39 minutes.

Poulakidas led Yale with 18 points, shooting 4-for-9 from three-point range. Mahoney registered 15 points, making three of his four three-point attempts.

Ivy League Tournament Most Outstanding Player Danny Wolf, a sophomore center, posted nine points and a game-high 13 rebounds.

Yale outrebounded Ivy rebounding leader Brown 41-34, including an 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass.

Yale is now undefeated at 3-0 as the No.2  seed in the Ivy tourney.

Many Yale basketball luminaries were among the sold-out crowd.

“Yale really stifled Brown defensively,” 2019 Ivy Player of the Year, Yale legend and NBA veteran Miye Oni said.

Two-time All-Ivy First Team selection Azar Swain called Knowling’s game-winner “was picture perfect. Can’t imagine a better scenario.”

Yale will be making its third NCAA Tournament since the Ivy League Tournament was instituted in 2017.

4 thoughts on “No. 2 Yale men’s basketball nips No. 4 Brown, 62-61, in instant classic to win Ivy Leagye”

  1. Incisive report on an “instant classic.” Poor Anya, wearing the horns in a big way. Great clutch shooting by the Bulldogs. Leave the door ajar at your peril.

  2. Mahoney doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Those two 3’s from way “downtown” cut Brown’s almost insurmountable lead to one that was within reach. He didn’t take any other 3’s in the 2nd half, but he was up to the challenge when the opportunities came.

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