PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Yale nearly made Anthony Dallier‘s homecoming extra special. The Bulldogs went toe-to-toe with ACC foe Pitt before dropping a hard-fought 75-70 decision before 6,719 fans, many of them friends and family of Dallier, at the Petersen Events Center.
Dallier, a Wexford, Pennsylvania, resident received a nice ovation from the crowd when he was introduced in the starting lineup and finished with six points and five assists in 31 minutes.
Yale had four players score in double figures, led by Sam Downey, who tallied 17 points. Alex Copeland added 16 points and Blake Reynolds scored 14. Freshman Miye Oni posted his second career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Pitt was led by the dynamic duo of Michael Young and James Artel, who combined for 44 points and 16 rebounds.
“They are very good,” said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of the Bulldogs, about Young and Artel. “We had some matchup issues with their size and quickness. We tried to limit their opportunities going to the basket. Really those two guys propelled Pitt to a win.”
But it certainly wasn’t easy. Yale led for nine minutes of the first half before the Panthers used a late run to take a 32-30 lead at the break. The Panthers pushed the advantage to 11 midway through the second half before the Bulldogs rallied.
A Reynolds three-pointer with 49 seconds left cut Pitt’s lead to three, 71-68.
Dallier, though, was whistled for a quick foul on the ensuing in-bounds play, and Artis made both free throws.
“We were not looking to foul there,” Jones said. “I thought that was the biggest play of the game.”
Downey’s layup cut the deficit back to three, but Artis and Cameron Johnson made free throws in the final 13 seconds to seal the win.
Johnson played a key role in stymieing Yale’s comeback. He hit three straight three-pointers during a stretch of the second half.
“We tried to play a little zone in the second half and tried to take the ball out of [Young and Artels’] hands somewhat, but they found some openings,” Jones said. “We tried to pack it in, but [Johnson] comes off the bench and makes three threes.”
The Bulldogs also had success from long-range, finishing 11-of-27 from beyond the arc.
“We did a better job in the second half at getting shots from the perimeter than we did in the first,” Jones said. “We figured out that driving in, having them collapse, and then kicking the ball out was good for us.”
Yale (2-2) more than held its own during a difficult season-opening stretch that included wins over Washington in Seattle and Patriot League preseason favorite Lehigh at home before back-to-back losses to ACC foes Virginia and Pitt.
“We have shown we have a lot of heart, and we’ve fought through adversity,” Jones said. “I look forward to seeing what we can do going forward.”
NOTES: Yale had 16 assists on its 27 field goals and committed only eight turnovers… Pitt was 18-of-23 from the foul line, while the Bulldogs were 5-of-6… Yale grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the game but was outrebounded 37-36 overall… The Bulldogs fly home on Wednesday and are next in action on Saturday at Vermont. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.
Report filed by Tim Bennett (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity