Yale seems to be in the business of breaking negative trends this year.
Less than a month and a half after the football team snapped its half-decade long losing streak against the hated Crimson, the men’s basketball team (5-9, 1-0 Ivy) accomplished a feat it has not achieved since 2002 — traveling to Providence and defeating Brown in the Pizzitola Center.
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“It’s a great feeling,” swingman Casey Hughes ’07 said. “We haven’t won [at Brown] since I’ve been at Yale.”
Perhaps not quite as momentous as the league-clinching triumph of their gridiron brothers, the 56-42 Rhode Island victory was nevertheless a very significant step in the right direction for the Bulldogs. After emerging victorious in only two of their first 10 games this season, Yale has won three of its last four, including the most recent all-important Ivy League victory over the Bears (5-11, 0-1 Ivy). The Elis’ continuing development as a team and their recent momentum appears to be coming at just the right time, as they have completed their non-conference schedule and prepare to battle Ancient Eight opponents.
“Nobody on the team had won there, so it was great for us to go up there and get a win,” forward Caleb Holmes ’08 said. “I know our class has never won at Dartmouth, so we’re looking forward to getting that one, too.”
Yale downed the Bears not with exceptional athleticism or fancy play-calling, but simply with sound, fundamental basketball. A balanced scoring attack, resilient defense, and solid rebounding paved the way for what was perhaps Yale’s most rewarding victory this season. Nine players scored for the Elis, including 10 points apiece from Hughes and forward Sam Kaplan ’07, who was playing in only his second game since being sidelined with a broken nose on Dec. 9 against American.
“The balance in scoring has been by design of what we are trying to do offensively,” head coach James Jones said. “We have good players at each position and any number of them might step up on a given night.”
The Bulldogs held Brown to under 40 percent shooting from the floor and outrebounded the Bears, 34-19, allowing only one offensive rebound the entire night. Brown’s 42 points were the least scored by any opponent against Yale in the past six years.
The Elis’ strong defensive play began right from the opening tip-off. After quickly scoring the game’s first bucket, the Bears were held scoreless for the next seven minutes, as the Bulldogs meticulously built a fifteen-point cushion. But junior guard Mark McAndrew kept the Bears close, nailing back-to-back three pointers to send the Bears into the locker room down 30-21.
Brown opened the second half by running off six consecutive points, but a Yale timeout resulted in a 10-0 run by the Bulldogs. Solid play on both ends of the court by the Elis ensured that the Bears would not get within striking distance for the remainder of the game, and Yale won its second straight league opener.
The Bulldogs will have an opportunity to defend their home court against the revenge-hungry Bears when they roll into New Haven this Saturday.
Yale began winter break play with a tough loss to UMass, but the determined Bulldogs bounced back quickly with a 74-59 pummeling of Navy. The Elis then traveled back to Massachusetts to take on a talented Boston College squad, falling 72-56. Once again, Yale was able to put a hard-fought loss promptly behind them and return to Lee Amphitheater to defeat Longwood, 74-62, bent on entering league play on a positive note.