Yale (4-1) began its New York State road trip Friday night with a workmanlike Ivy League 87-78 victory over Columbia, to solidify a second place tie and keep up with front running Princeton (4-0) and Harvard (4-1), who also recorded wins.
For the third consecutive game, Yale overcame a second half deficit, this time trailing by five with 12 and a half minutes remaining. The Bulldogs then went on an 11-0 run to take the lead and expand it to the final margin of nine on two occasions.
The Bulldogs were led by a trio of underclassmen. Freshman Miye Oni had 22, Trey Phills, a sophomore, registered a career high 19, and Blake Reynolds, another sophomore, 18.
Captain Sam Downey was the fourth Yale starter in double figures with 16.
Luke Petrasek scored 24 points, Mike Smith had 15 and CJ Davis 12 for the Lions (10-8, 3-2), who entered with a two-game winning streak after an upset win over one of the league favorites, Harvard, last Saturday.
Yale is 12-6 overall in what so far has been a top heavy road schedule. Its game Saturday at Cornell will complete a six game Ivy League stretch that includes five away from home.
There were seven ties and 16 lead changes before Yale asserted itself late. The Bulldogs shot 49.1 percent, including 10 of 22 three-pointers, to take their sixth win in the last seven games. They shot 49.1 percent, hitting 10 of 22 three-pointers.
Oni made a good case for a fifth Ivy League Rookie of the Week award, regardless what he does Saturday at Cornell. His 22 points came on five for 10 from the field, including 3 of 6 behind the arc. He also pulled down eight rebounds, had five assists and one blocked shot.
Phills had a career high for the second straight game. He scored 16 a week ago against Brown, and tonight bettered that by three.
Meanwhile, Princeton moved to 4-0. Yale and Harvard are tied for second (4-1) and Columbia dropped to fourth (3-2). Yale is 12-6 in all games.
A Yale win Saturday at Cornell will assure the Bulldogs of picking up a game against either Princeton or Harvard, who face each other in an early season showdown in Cambridge.
Yale’s win came on its first return to Columbia’s court, after last season when it won the game that clinched the Ivy League title and punched a ticket to the NCAA Tournament.