SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington Huskies found out that even without their leading scorer, Yale still is a formidable basketball team, especially on the backboards.
Miye Oni scored 24 points, Sam Downey added 22 and Yale turned back a furious second-half rally to hold off Washington 98-90 on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.
Yale, which made the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1972, adjusted quickly to the absence of guard Makai Mason, who sustained a broken foot in a scrimmage with Boston University on Nov. 5 and likely will miss the entire season.
“I couldn’t be more proud of my team. We did what we set out to do,” said Yale coach James Jones. “We have three values that we work on every day in practice and we did a great job at two of the three, rebounding and sharing the ball, and that was a big difference in the game for us.”
The Bulldogs, who led 49-35 at the half, outrebounded Washington 42-29, including a 21-4 advantage on the offensive end. Yale also had 20 assists on its 33 field goals and finished with seven turnovers — just one in the first half.
Washington shot 66.7 percent in the second half and battled back within 77-73 on a jumper by highly-touted freshman Markelle Fultz, who finished with 30 points.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 88-77 on Oni’s 3-pointer from the left corner with 1:24 left.
“We point no further than the backboards on our end and their end,” said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. “Although we had some defensive breakdowns, I think that tells the story. They scored on 19 points on second-chance rebounds.”
Washington, which trailed by as many as 20 in the first half, used a 10-2 spurt to pull within 55-47 on David Crisp’s breakaway jam with 16:29 remaining.
Oni’s layup capped a 15-2 run that put Yale in front 29-11 with 7:48 left in the half. Washington pulled within 38-26 on two free throws by Matisse Thybulle with 2:40 remaining.
“If you follow Yale, you’ve got to be impressed with their basketball team and how they go about their business,” said Romar, who was celebrating his 58th birthday. “They executed very, very well. They had a couple terrific young players, they were patient, they made big shots. They were on the road, but they played with a great deal of poise.”
Washington: With Marquese Chriss and Dejounte Murray both drafted in the first-round of the NBA draft after just one season at Washington, the Huskies have just two players that have been on the roster longer than one season. Sophomore forward Matisse Thybulle is the only returning player who started all 34 games last season.
Yale: The Bulldogs are adjusting to life without guard Makai Mason, the team’s leading scorer last season. Mason averaged 16 points and 3.8 assists per game last season as a sophomore and was named all-Ivy League. He had a career-high 31 points in the 12th-seeded Bulldogs’ 79-75 victory over No. 5 seed Baylor in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
Washington continues its four-game, season-opening stretch at home against Cal State-Fullerton on Thursday.
Yale returns from its one-game cross-country trip to face Lehigh at home, where the Bulldogs were 12-0 last season.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Washington had an astonishing 15 blocked shots, including six each by Matisse Thybulle and Malik Dime, while Yale did not have a single block.
Markelle Fultz, a 6-4 guard from Maryland, lived up to his billing with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He also had seven rebounds and six assists in 36 minutes. However, he missed two crucial free throws with 1:44 left and Washington within 85-77.