After dropping two games on the road to start the season 0–2, the Yale men’s basketball team picked up their first win of the season Tuesday night, defeating Colgate 65–55 in the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.
“We were able to rebound the ball well today,” point guard Porter Braswell ’10 said. “We ran our offense and everyone was able to find ways to contribute. When we play well as a team we are difficult to beat.”
As they have in all three games this season, captain Alex Zampier ’10 and forward Jordan Gibson ’10 paced the Bulldogs with 16 and 14 points, respectively, but the story of the day was forward Mike Sands ’11. Sands grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds and added seven points in the contest — a crucial contribution with center Paul Nelson ’10 out for the game with an ankle injury.
Gibson and Zampier held down the fort for the Bulldogs in the first half, scoring 16 of the team’s 28 points in the half. Freshman Michael Grace ’13 added his fifth three-pointer of the season, and forward Brian Katz ’12 also hit from behind the arc for the Elis in a first half that was back-and-forth the whole way.
Yet for the third time this season, Yale faced a deficit at halftime, and headed to the locker room down two points. The second half got off to a shaky start as the Bulldogs and Raiders exchanged turnovers, but four points in 40 seconds from Reggie Willhite ’12 gave Yale a lead it would not relinquish.
That began a 12–0 run for the Bulldogs, with points from Zampier, Sands, Mantilla, and Gibson in that span, extending their lead to 10 with 13 minutes to go.
Colgate responded, cutting the lead to 40–39 with 10 minutes to go, but the balanced Eli offensive attack proved too much for the Raiders, making another 11–2 run, capped by a Willhite layup, to spur the Bulldogs to the 65–55 victory.
“We rebounded really well tonight,” Gibson said. “A lot of guys stepped up and played well for us because we were missing Paul [Nelson].”
All 10 players who saw action for the Bulldogs scored, demonstrating depth that could prove crucial to their success the rest of the way.
“I was very happy with our entire effort,” head coach James Jones said in a press release. “The NIT is a great experience for a young team. We need games to try and figure things out.”
The Bulldogs will get another opportunity to continue improving Saturday, when they play Quinnipiac (1–0) in their first home contest of the year at 7 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.