After overcoming a 15 point deficit, Yale nearly pulled off a big comeback win at Vermont on Saturday afternoon. However, instead of going into overtime, Ernie Duncan’s driving layup in a crowd with one second left lifted the home side to a 67-65 win before 2,173 at Patrick Gym.
With the heralded freshman Jordan Bruner making his injury delayed Yale debut, another first year player, Miye Oni, continued his string of impressive performances with 19 points. His production included a trio awarded when he was fouled in the act of shooting from behind the 3-point line. They put Yale ahead by two with 1:46 to go.
Sam Downey added 13 points and Blake Reynolds scored 11 for the Bulldogs (2-3). Anthony Lamb paced UVM (6-2) with 18 points and Kurt Steidl added 11.
There were six ties and three lead changes in the first half, after which Vermont held a 45-37 lead. Following the break Cam Ward made a three-pointer to gave the Catamounts a 58-43 lead with nine minutes left.
Yale came back with a 13-3 run over the next five minutes. An Oni three-pointer started it and Alex Copeland’s three-point play cut the margin to one. Then Oni hit those three free throws with 1:46 remaining and the Bulldogs led 65-63.
After two Vermont free throws created a 65-65 tie, Downey, with a chance to put Yale back in front by two with 29 seconds left, had his jump shot from the wing rim out. That set up the last second winner by Duncan.
“Our guys showed a lot of heart to fight back,” said Coach James Jones. “We just need to do the little things better – make free throws and take it harder to the basket.”
The Catamounts beat Yale the way they lost their previous game at Houston – in the last second. In this game they shot nearly 70 percent (18-of-26) in building an eight-point halftime lead. But in the second half the Bulldogs limited UVM to just 30 percent from the field and 22 points.
Bruner, being eased into the lineup from the bench, had eight points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. His first career basket came on a driving dunk in traffic shortly after he entered. Yale’s season long injury victim, Mikai Mason, made the long trip to watch the game, with his leg in a cast.
The Bulldogs out rebounded UVM 38-29, but committed a season-high 18 turnovers. The game capped a busy Thanksgiving vacation week for the Bulldogs, who played at Virginia last Sunday, at Pitt on Tuesday, went through a long delay before flying home on Wednesday, and then made a nearly five-hour bus ride to Burlington on Friday.
Their next contest, again on the road, will be Wednesday against Bryant, as Yale returns to Providence, R.I, the city where they saw action in the NCAA tournament last March.