Miye Oni leads Yale’s 2nd-half rally past Miami, 77-73
MIAMI (AP) — Even with a pre-dawn start to the trip, Yale’s road warriors had enough left at the end to overtake the Miami Hurricanes.
Junior guard Miye Oni scored a career-high 29 points, including the game’s final four, and Yale erased a 15-point deficit in the second half Saturday to hand the Hurricanes their third consecutive defeat, 77-73.
The Bulldogs were the better team down the stretch even though their bus left campus at 4 a.m. Friday, an itinerary necessary because they fly commercial.
“Our challenges are a little different than other people’s,” coach James Jones said. “All that stuff should make us stronger.”
The Bulldogs (3-2) climbed above .500 even though they have yet to play at home.
Oni sank two free throws to put them ahead 75-73 with 1:32 to go — their first lead since midway through the first half. Miami then misfired on consecutive possessions, and Oni made two clinching free throws with 10 seconds left.
The Hurricanes (5-3) have lost their past three games by a total of nine points.
“Our guys are probably frustrated and disappointed with the way they finished the game,” coach Jim Larranaga said.
The Hurricanes missed 15 of their final 17 shots and went scoreless over the final 3:21.
Yale went only 4 for 18 from 3-point range but shot 52 percent overall, while holding the Hurricanes to 30 percent in the second half.
“It was a wonderful game,” Oni said. “When you’re into it, you just know if you do the right things you can win. They started running the same sets over and over. We knew what they were going to do. We just toughened up and got stops at the end.”
The game was the finale of the Hoophall Miami Invitational, a four-team, one-day event at the Heat’s arena. The Bulldogs staged a jubilant on-court celebration that continued as they headed to their locker room, singing Sheck Wes’ “Mo Bamba” in the hallway.
“It’s a very-loved song by our team,” forward Paul Atkinson said.
Atkinson, a sophomore from nearby West Palm Beach, Florida, shot 8 for 10 and scored a career-high 17 points. Oni went 10 for 15 and added six rebounds.
Ebuka Izundu had 19 points and nine rebounds for Miami, and DJ Vasiljevic added 17 points.
The Hurricanes were up 49-39 at halftime and increased the lead to 56-41 before the Bulldogs rallied, finally pulling even at 71 with 3½ minutes left.
“We played a very good first half,” Larranaga said. “But we were just not in sync offensively the second half. I wish I knew why.”
Atkinson had about 15 friends and relatives in the small crowd. He said he wasn’t recruited by the Hurricanes but didn’t want to attend Miami anyway.
An ominous issue with Atlantic Coast Conference playing looming — Larranaga said the Hurricanes lack a defensive stopper.
It showed against Oni.
“We couldn’t guard him,” Larranaga said. “We’ve actually had a very hard time in every game guarding the other team’s best player.”
A moment of silence was held before tipoff to honor former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday. He was a baseball captain at Yale in the 1940s.
Yale will wait until Sunday to fly home — commercial.
“Our knees are going to hurt real bad,” the 6-6 Oni said with a smile. The Bulldogs play at home for the first time Wednesday when they face Lehigh.
Miami completes a stretch of six games in 13 days Tuesday when it plays another Ivy League team, Penn.
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