The men’s basketball team headed into last weekend hoping to go over .500 for the first time this year, but the Bulldogs fell just four points short of doing so in the final minutes of their game against Vermont.
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Despite 25 points from guard Austin Morgan ’13, the Bulldogs (4–4) lost on the road to the Catamouts (6–1) 82-78 Saturday. On Monday, a shutdown second half defense helped the Elis to a 74–53 victory over the Albany Great Danes (4–6) to bring the team back to .500. Center Greg Mangano ’12 led the Bulldogs’ winning effort, controlling the paint with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
The Bulldogs’ battle with the Catamounts, last season’s America East Conference Champions, quickly turned into an intense offensive showdown. The Bulldogs took the lead early and extended it to seven halfway through the first half, but that lead would not last long as the Catamounts battled back to a 32–32 tie to enter the half.
The second period was just as competitive as the first. After 13 minutes, the score stayed even at 59–59. However, Yale would trail from that point throughout the remainder of the game. With the Catamount lead at 74–71 with 24 seconds to play, Vermont guard Joey Accaoui sank two free throws, part of his 17-point second-half performance, to extend the lead to five. Despite seven Bulldog points in the final 24 seconds, Vermont connected on their final six free throws to secure an 82-78 win.
“Playing at Vermont is a difficult game,” point guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “If we played them at home, then we win that game by four. It was just a good game. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose those games.”
Morgan, the Bulldogs’ leading scorer, contributed 25 points on six-of-13 shooting, while Mangano just missed a double-double with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Senior forward Evan Fjeld led the Catamounts with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Accaoui contributed 17 points.
Yale shot 10 of 16 from 3-point land in the game, but the Bulldogs struggled inside. The Catamounts outscored Yale 48-20 in the paint and grabbed 36 rebounds to the Elis’ 28.
The Bulldogs had a chance for redemption against Albany at the John J. Lee Amphitheater on Monday. The Bulldogs were the first on the scoreboard with an alley-oop from Braswell to forward Reggie Willhite ’12 a minute into the game. Willhite then took advantage of a Bulldog steal on the ensuing Albany possession and sank a 3-point jumper. A Great Danes’ missed shot then led to a Mangano fadeaway bankshot and a quick 7–0 Eli lead. But Albany would battle back over the next 16 minutes.
With one minute to play in the half, two free throws from the Great Danes’ Luke Devlin tied the game at 30. The Elis quickly broke the tie with a 3-point play from guard Isaiah Salafia ’14. After an Albany free throw, Braswell brought the ball up the court and sank a 3-pointer as time expired to give his a team a 36–31 lead at the half.
“We came out and started the game pretty well, but they made a run at us,” Braswell said. “We were able to withstand their run.”
Mangano led the Bulldogs with 15 points and six rebounds after the first 20 minutes of play. Ambrose had seven points to lead the Great Danes, who won the battle on the boards in the first half, 17 to 13.
A Braswell 3-pointer helped Yale acquire a 41–33 lead, but Albany responded by embarking on a 7-0 run to narrow the gap to one. From that point onward, the Bulldogs would dominate.
A quick pass from Braswell to Mangano led to a wide-open 3-pointer for the Bulldogs’ big man. He converted two free throws to give his team a 50–43 advantage. Mike Black then added two points on a jumper for Albany, but those would be their last points for over five and a half minutes. During that time, Yale rolled off 20 consecutive points to secure a 25-point lead and the game. Of the 20 points, eight came from guard Raffi Mantilla ’11 coming off the bench. First-time starter, forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14, added six.
“I thought we did a great of job of rebounding and defense in the second half,” head coach James Jones said. “The key was the contribution from everybody.”
In addition, all eight of the Bulldog field goals on the 20-0 run were assisted. Mantilla paved the way with three of those assists.
“Ever since the Providence game, our guys have learned that sharing the ball is important,” Jones said.
Albany could not climb their way back into the game after the Yale run, and the Bulldogs cruised through the final eight minutes to emerge with a 74–53 victory. Mangano finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, his second double-double of the season. The Bulldogs shot 47.5 percent from the field for the game, but the main contribution came on the defensive end where Yale held Albany to a 24.2 percent field goal percentage in the second half. Perhaps most importantly, the Bulldogs outrebounded the Great Danes 40-35.
“I think that in the past few games, we haven’t done a good job on our defensive rebounding,” Mangano said. “We’ve been working on it in practice.”
The Bulldogs will be back in action Wednesday as they battle Bryant at 7 p.m. in Smithfield, Rhode Island.