Brown loses Ivy championship to Yale on heartbreaking buzzer-beater

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 04: Yale Bulldogs guard Bez Mbeng (2) dribbles the ball during a college basketball game between the Yale Bulldogs and the Brown Bears on March 4, 2023, at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, RI. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Yale scored two at the buzzer to lift them over Brown in the Ivy Championship. (Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Brown Bears lost the Ivy championship to the Yale Bulldogs by just one point on Sunday, ending their dream run in the conference championship and continuing their NCAA tournament drought.

Yale, down 60-54 with 22 seconds left, managed to score eight points before time ran out — including the game-winning shot at the buzzer — to beat Brown, 62-61. Being up by that much with so little time left typically means the game is in hand, but Brown let the game slip away in heartbreaking fashion.

Bez Mbeng got the rally start with an and-one play to cut the deficit to 60-57. After a Brown free throw, Mbeng found John Poulakidas for an open 3-pointer to cut the lead to one point with 14 seconds left. Brown had two chances at the line to extend its lead, but both free throws from Malachi Ndur missed the mark, leaving the door open for Matt Knowling to hit the buzzer-beating floater at the rim.

Yale, the No. 2 seed, did not expect to face Brown in the final, but that's the story of Brown's season. Through Feb. 16, Brown had a feeble 6-17 record and wasn't expected to seriously contend for anything. But the next day against Penn it started a seven-game winning streak that lasted through the end of the regular season and through the Ivy semifinal against Princeton.

Princeton, the No. 1 seed, is the team Yale expected to face. But Brown beat them 90-81 to make it to the championship. And Yale may have been secretly hoping to face Princeton, since it lost to Brown in overtime on March 9.

And just eight days later, Brown almost pulled off another upset of Yale. The Bears are not going dancing, but Yale needed a buzzer-beater to take them down. Maybe in a few days, after Yale likely gets demolished in the first round of the tournament, Brown can feel good about that.