Fantastic Matt (2024 Ivy League Tournament Championship Game)

Chris Simon/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEW YORK — Less than 30 seconds remained in Yale’s flickering NCAA Tournament hopes, down and almost certainly out with a six-point deficit staring them in the face that seemed much bigger with every tenth of a second wasting away from the clock.

But a nanosecond before that last tick elapsed and the red lights went on behind the backboard, Matt Dowling found just enough time to shot-put an attempt toward the hoop — one that went through the net and completed one of the wildest and most improbable comebacks of championship week.

Dowling converted a short jumper off a bounce pass from Bez Mbeng at the buzzer, lifting No. 2 seed Yale to a 62-61 victory over fourth-seeded Brown in the Ivy League championship game inside Levien Gymnasium on Sunday afternoon. The win gave the Bulldogs its third Ivy League Tournament championship in the last four years, and avenged a defeat to the Bears in the regular-season finale in New Haven that cost the Bulldogs a chance at claiming a piece of the regular season title. The last league in the country to hold out from instituting a tournament, that result would have eliminated the Bulldogs from any chance at the NCAA Tournament just a few years ago, given the regular season champion would be the team to clinch the NCAA Tournament automatic bid. But Yale got its chance at redemption in the tournament, and took advantage.


When I first got in the league we didn’t have one of the better teams, and I fought like hell to get an Ivy league tournament. And now that we are a better team I don’t like it so much, but I wouldn’t take away this opportunity from our guys,” Yale head coach James Jones said. “This was a great experience for them and it’s something that they’ll never forget. The fact that the last basket was scored off an assist on a kid trying to make a play for someone else; it’s just so meaningful to me as a coach. And I’d like to also tip my hat to Brown because they did a tremendous job.”

Brown appeared on the verge of completing an improbably late-season run with a conference tournament title when it took a 60-54 lead on two free throws by Kino Lilly Jr. with 27 seconds remaining. That was, until free throws became the Bears’ undoing. After an Mbeng three-point play cut the Bears’ lead in half, Brown’s Nana Owusu-Anane split a pair of free throws to restore a two-possession lead.

John Poulakidas nailed a three on then next possession to move Yale within one with 15 seconds left, and after Poulakidas committed a foul to send Brown to the line, Malachi Ndur missed both of his free throws, setting up the heroics from Mbeng and Dowling.

“I just wanted to put myself by the basket in case of any misses,” Dowling said. “We were trying to get a play for someone else but they found me. I didn’t think I was going to be that open. I work on that shot everyday. I didn’t overthink it, I just let it go and it went in.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Chris Simon. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 16 pictures in total.

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Tags : Brown BearsCollege BasketballIvy LeagueYale Bulldogs

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