M. BASKETBALL | Nearing the end

The Yale men’s basketball team will look to put last weekend’s disappointing split behind as it heads into the final weekend of the 2008-’09 regular season.

Yale finishes its season with play against Dartmouth tonight and archrival Harvard on Saturday, the Bulldogs’ Senior Night.

Tonight will be a battle of third-place teams with the slimmest of chances at a shot in the Ancient Eight championship — both the Elis (12-14, 7-5 Ivy) and Darmouth (9-17, 7-5) are ranked third behind Cornell and Princeton.

The winner of the contest, slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff, will also need to win the following night and hope Cornell loses both games this weekend in order for a tie for first with the Big Red. If that unlikely scenario falls into place, a playoff would be scheduled to determine who earns the Ivy League’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Tomorrow night, archrival Harvard (13-13, 5-7) visits New Haven for five Bulldogs’ Senior Night.

Yale is coming off a home split on the road against Penn (9-16, 5-6) and second-place Princeton (12-12, 7-4). Riding a three-game winning streak — all come-from-behind wins — the Elis almost pulled two more comeback wins. Last weekend, the Bulldogs overcame a one-point halftime deficit on the way to an 87-79 victory over the Quakers on Feb. 27.

The next night, however, Elis dug themselves a hole too deep to climb out of. Despite responding to Princeton’s 14-0 start with a 13-0 run of their own, the Bulldogs never led in 40 minutes of play and lost, 62-54.

In the first meeting against the Big Green on Feb. 7, Yale let a golden opportunity to steal a road game slip away. Unable to get anything going down the stretch in Hanover, N.H., the Bulldogs scored just four points in the last 6:09 of the game and fell against the hosts, 57-54.

The loss was especially tough to swallow considering that Yale held the conference’s leading scorer, Alex Barnett (19.6 points per game), to just 5 of 18 shooting and 13 points.

Dartmouth is coming off a split of its own. The Big Green fell to first-place Cornell (19-9, 9-3) on Friday night before defeating Columbia (11-15, 6-6) on Saturday.

Barnett is the team’s only double-digit scorer, but the Big Green makes up for it with seven players who average at least four points per contest.

The Crimson come to New Haven tomorrow night looking to salvage a split against the Bulldogs. In the teams’ first meeting, the Elis pushed the ball up and down the floor on the way to a resounding 87-66 win in Cambridge.

The matchup of rivals will be especially emotional for five Yale seniors on their Senior Night. Captain Ross Morin ’09, forward Travis Pinick ’09, and guards Chris Andrews ’09 and Brandon Rose ’09 will suit up for the final time in Yale blue; Ari Greenberg ’09, who has been injured the entire season, will also be honored.

“The seniors really have been the catalyst for this team,” Porter Braswell ’11 said. “We wouldn’t be half the team we are without them.”

The Crimson feature a Dartmouth-like distribution on offense. Jeremy Lin, the conference’s third leading scorer at 18.1 points per game, is the only Cantab averaging double figures. Senior point guard Drew Housman is second at 8.8 points per game.

Much like the entire season, the Bulldogs will be led by its three main cogs — guard Alex Zampier ’10 (13.1 points per game), Morin (12.8 ppg) and the do-everything Pinick (10.0 ppg).

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