John Poulakidas leads No. 13 Yale to shocker over Auburn

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 06:12 AM

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

John Poulakidas made six 3-pointers and scored 28 points and Samson Aletan made a key blocked shot in the final seconds as 13th-seeded Yale notched a 78-76 upset of fourth-seeded Auburn on Friday afternoon in an East Region first-round game at Spokane, Wash.

August Mahoney scored 14 points and Danny Wolf had 13 for the Bulldogs (23-9), who overcame a 10-point, second-half deficit to improve to 2-7 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

"I don't know if that's the best win in Yale basketball history, but I will tell you that's the best basketball team we've beaten in Yale basketball history as far as I'm concerned," Bulldogs coach James Jones said. "Auburn is one of the better teams in the country. Immensely talented, very well-coached."

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said, "You have to give Yale credit. They played a great game ... They made shots, they made plays. That's a really good champion."

Johni Broome recorded 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Tigers (27-8). Denver Jones added 17 points and Jaylin Williams had 13 for Auburn.

Upstart Yale will face No. 5 seed San Diego State in Sunday's second round.

The Bulldogs led 78-74 after Yassine Gharram split two free throws with 14.4 seconds remaining.

Auburn's K.D. Johnson scored a basket with 9.4 seconds left and was fouled but missed the free throw to keep the margin at two. There was a tie-up for the loose ball and the possession arrow pointed in the Tigers' direction.

On the inbound play, Tre Donaldson was fouled with 6.1 seconds left and missed both free throws.

Broome got the rebound but couldn't get off a shot and Williams was next but Aletan swatted away his attempt. Johnson got the offensive rebound but his 3-point shot bounced off the rim as time expired.

Tigers player Dylan Cardwell said his emotions when game ended, "Just shock -- not really being able to understand how much we underaccomplished. Just shock."

Auburn's Chad Baker-Mazara drew a flagrant 2 foul and ejection just 3:01 into the game. Baker-Mazara was running up court and aggressively slammed his right elbow into the chest of Mahoney.

The Tigers led by 10 midway through the second half before the Poulakidas-led Bulldogs made an impressive charge.

A stepback jumper by Poulakidas pulled the Bulldogs within 70-66 with 3:39 remaining. Matt Knowlton and Wolf each added two free throws as Yale tied the score at 70 with 2:38 remaining.

After Broome scored inside to put Auburn back ahead, Poulakidas drilled a 3-pointer to give the Bulldogs a 73-72 edge with 2:11 left.

Jones missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 46.2 seconds left. Wolf was fouled and made both shots to give Yale a three-point lead with 45 seconds left.

Broome made two free throws with 33.6 seconds remaining to pull Auburn within 75-74. But Mahoney sank two free throws with 32.9 seconds left.

The Tigers shot 50.9 percent from the field, including 7 of 20 from 3-point range.

Yale connected on 46.2 percent of its shots and was 9 of 20 from behind the arc.

"We stuck together today," Poulakidas said. "It was a full team effort. I know I led us in scoring, but everybody made contributions. It wasn't a one-man show tonight."

Broome had 13 points and nine rebounds in the first half as the Tigers led 41-34 at the break. Poulakidas scored 12 in the half for Yale.

--Field Level Media