New Haven, CT – Justin Sears scored 14 of his game high 20 points in the second half as Yale held off a late Brown comeback bid to earn a 74-67 win over the Bears in the Ivy League opener at the John J. Lee Amphitheater Saturday afternoon. Brown falls to 8-7 overall, 0-1 in the Ivy League, while Yale improves to 7-8, 1-0 in Ivy play.
Trailing 65-55, with 6:50 remaining in the game, Brown fought back on a dunk by junior Rafael Maia, a trey by senior Sean McGonagill and two free throws by freshman Tavon Blackmon to pull to within three points of the Bulldogs, 65-62, with 3:08 remaining.
After a free throw by Yale's Brandon Sherrod, sophomore Cedric Kuakumensah pulled the Bears to within one point, 66-65, on a three-point play with 2:21 left. But that was as close as the Bears would get as Yale converted 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch, including Sears' 5-of-6 shooting from the charity stripe.
Yale's relentless defense forced 19 Brown turnovers that accounted for 21 points. The Bears out-rebounded the Bulldogs by a 39-33 margin.
McGonagill paced the Bears with 17 points and six assists. Maia fouled out after registering a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He connected on 7-of-13 field goals.
Brown freshman Norman Hobbie scored 12 of his 14 points in the opening 20 minutes and shot 4-of-8 from behind the three-point arc. Blackmon finished with nine points, all in the second half.
Sears did most of his scoring from the free throw line on 12-of-15 shooting. He also had six rebounds. Armani Cotton just missed a double-double for the Bulldogs with 19 points and nine rebounds. Javier Duren netted 16 points and Brandon Sherrod added 10 points for the Bulldogs.
Brown trailed 33-31 in a relentless, physical first half that had four lead changes. Hobbie kept the Bears in the game with 12 first half points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point arc, while Cotton and Duren netted 12 points each for the Bulldogs.
The Bears held a 37-35 lead with 17:03 remaining on a Maia layup, but the Bulldogs answered with a 16-7 spurt to pull ahead by a 51-44 margin at the 12:15 mark of the second half. Yale later grabbed a lead 55-46 on a layup by Victor Nick with 10:30 remaining.
Brown and Yale will have face each other again next Saturday, January 25, with the Bears hosting the Bulldogs in their Ivy League home opener at the Pizzitola Sports Center. Tip-off is 4:00 pm. Newport's Heather Abbott, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, will be presenting the game ball to officials for the opening tip-off.