Any chances the Yale men’s basketball team had of matching or improving last year’s fourth-place Ivy League finish took a massive hit this weekend, as the Bulldogs dropped games to Penn and Princeton to send their conference record to 4–6, and their overall mark to 10–17.
The sweep is the first time the Elis have lost both games of a conference weekend this season and sends Yale into a tie for fifth in the league, a half game behind the Quakers and just a game ahead of Columbia.
Friday night’s contest, nationally televised on ESPNU, saw Princeton capitalize on a 39–25 rebounding advantage on the way to a convincing 82–58 victory. It was the ninth game this season in which the Elis have been outrebounded, all of which have resulted in losses.
Making the difference even more significant was that 16 of Princeton’s rebounds came on the offensive glass, giving the Tigers multiple offensive chances, and as one may expect from a squad that sits at 7–2 in conference play, those are chances Princeton took advantage of.
“Ivy League games are often very physical and closely decided,” center Paul Nelson ’10 said. “Any time we get second-chance opportunities and limit theirs, we will have a good chance to win.”
The Tigers were 13-for-18 from behind the arc, and had assists on 25 of their 31 field goals en route to shooting 50.8 percent for the game. The Tigers were led by Dan Mavraides’ 20 points on 8-for-14 shooting, a performance supplemented by the double-digit scoring efforts from Patrick Saunders, Douglas Davis and Kareem Maddox.
The Bulldogs shot 46 percent from the field, and only forward Greg Mangano ’12 hit double digits, contributing 11 points and five rebounds. Captain Alex Zampier ’10 added nine points on just 3–12 shooting.
Unlike two of the previous three Ivy League weekends in which Yale dropped the first game of a weekend only to bounce back and take the second, the Elis were unable to bounce back against the streaking Quakers (5–18, 4–5) at the Palestra in Philadelphia on Saturday night.
Penn guard Zack Rosen scored 27 points to spark the Quakers to the 81–69 victory. Rosen’s scoring outburst was backed up by a pair of double-doubles from Dan Monckton (18 points, 12 rebounds), and Jack Eggleston (13 points, 10 rebounds), as Penn drained seven of 19 threes after hitting just one of 18 in their loss at John J. Lee Amphitheater on Jan 29.
As it has been all season, the key stat for the Bulldogs proved to be rebounding, as Penn outrebounded Yale 39–31 to send the Elis’ record to 0–10 in games where they do not hold the advantage on the glass.
Nelson had a double-double for Yale, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, and forward Mike Sands ’11 scored 16 in the loss. Zampier bounced back from Friday’s struggles to score 21 to lead the Bulldogs.
After cutting an eight-point halftime deficit to five with just 11:38 left to play, the Quakers nailed four straight three-pointers to stem the Bulldog comeback and solidify their win.
“That’s going to change the game,” head coach James Jones said. “We were fighting uphill the rest of the way.”
More specifically, the Quakers made shots while the Bulldogs did not.
The Elis shot three-for-17 from three-point range, and just 41.7 percent for the game. Yale shot just 50 percent from the line (5–10) in the first half, and committed 11 turnovers in the loss.
If they hope to match last year’s fourth-place finish, the Bulldogs must play well next weekend when they take on third-place Harvard (18–6, 7–3) and last-place Dartmouth (5–19, 1–9) on their last road trip of the season. That will be followed by home dates with Columbia and Cornell as the Eli seniors look to close out their Bulldog careers on a high note and improve on last year’s finish.
“We’ve proven that we can play with top tier teams,” Mangano said. “We’ve lost a couple of heartbreakers, but we know what we’re capable of doing. There’s still games left on the schedule, and we feel that we can be successful in every one.”