Center Greg Mangano ’12 continued his break-out season over the Thanksgiving break.
The 6’ 10” junior center totalled 41 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Elis against two one-loss teams. The men’s basketball team (2–3) lost to No. 19 Illinois (6-1) 73–47, but rebounded against Army (4–2) on Saturday to win their first home game of the season, 87–79. Mangano’s 27 points and 15 rebounds against the Black Knights were career highs.
The Elis struggled against a highly ranked Illini team that was averaging 82 points per game coming into the contest. Behind the strength of seniors Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale, the Fighting Illini got off to a fast 12–3 lead.
“They’ve got really good players, some of which will probably end up in the NBA,” forward Rhett Anderson ’12 said. “We knew that it was going to be a challenge for us.”
A Raffi Mantilla ’11 fastbreak layup, part of eight straight Bulldog points, narrowed the gap to one. However, Illinois would dominate the remainder of the first half and led 30–17 at the break. Yale kept it close to begin the second half. Austin Morgan ’13 hit a three-pointer that narrowed the Illini lead to 40–31 with 15 minutes left in the game. However, a breakaway dunk by Mike Davis and a three-pointer and layup by D.J. Richardson gave Illinois a sixteen point edge. Illinois would dominate the rest of the game and pulled away with a 73–47 win.
“It was just overall not a good game for us,” point guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “We didn’t play that well. Illinois is a great team. They did a great job, and they’re very well coached.”
Mangano led the Bulldogs with 14 points and 7 boards. Morgan contributed 12 points. Richardson was the Illini’s leading scorer with 16 points. McCamey, an All-Big Ten first team selection, finished with 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Tisdale ended with a double-double, 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Yale rebounded from the lopsided result of the Illinois game, and took down Army behind a 54-field-goal shooting percentage, the Bulldogs’ highest all season. Last season, the Elis fell to the Black Knights 64–48 at West Point.
“Army is a team that we’ve played before and we knew what to expect,” Mangano said. “They play extremely hard.”
On the Elis’ first possession of the game, Morgan missed a three-point attempt, but Mangano pulled down the offensive rebound. After Mangano missed the ensuing jumper, Yale forward Reggie Willhite ’12 grabbed another offensive board and laid it in the basket to give his team a 2–0 lead. That dominance on the glass would become a theme for the rest of the game.
“We were bigger than Army,” Braswell said. “We needed to outrebound them.”
The two teams would keep it close over the next nine minutes. With 10:17 to go in the first half, Yale trailed 18–17. Then Army went on an 8–0 run that started with two free throws from Black Knight guard Julian Simmons and was capped by a Jason Pancoe three-pointer. But Mangano converted a three-point play and nailed a three-pointer as part of an 11–1 run that gave the Elis a 28–27 lead. Behind seven more points from Mangano, the Bulldogs went into the half with a 45-39 lead.
“I think our big catalyst was Greg’s performance,” Anderson said of the run. “He played tremendously for us.”
The Black Knights did not go away quietly as Simmons came out on a tear in the second half, scoring 14 points in the first four and a half minutes to help narrow the Army deficit to one. Bulldog forward Anderson’s three point play extended the lead for a short time, but after five more minutes of basketball, Army forward Ella Ellis sank a three-point shot to tie the game at 65. After a Mangano free throw, Pancoe drilled another three to give his team a 68-66 advantage with 8:18 to go in the second half, the Black Knights’ first lead since 6:38 remaining in the first. Three minutes later the Bulldogs tied the game back up at 72-72. Free throws from Morgan and Willhite and a Braswell layup gave the Elis a six point advantage. From that point on, Yale would shoot free throws and run out the clock.
“It’s good to get a win, but at the same time, it’s only one win,” Anderson said. “We’re happy with it. It’s a positive for our team, but we also have a long way to go.”
Braswell added 16 points on top of Mangano’s 27, and Anderson finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, both career highs. Simmons added 28 points for the Black Knights.
“[Simmons] had a very productive game,” Braswell said. “One person shouldn’t be able to beat us. Being able to contain everyone else allowed us to win the game.”
The Bulldogs will be in action Tuesday night as they matchup with Hartford at 7 p.m. in John J. Lee Amphitheater.