After a three game slump, the men’s basketball team capped off winter break with a two-game winning streak.
In their last non-conference game of the season, the Bulldogs (7–7) took down the Baruch Bearcats (8–6) 85–57 Saturday afternoon in the John J. Lee Amphitheater after narrowly defeating Holy Cross 77–76 on Wednesday. Center Greg Mangano ’12 led Yale against the Bearcats with 18 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season.
The matchup with Baruch was the Elis’ fifth and final game of the winter break, which got off to a rough start with three straight losses. They lost 71–62 to Sacred Heart (7–8), 60–44 at the hands of Stanford (9–5), and 62–57 to Lehigh (9–7).
“I think we just need to get our confidence back,” forward Rhett Anderson ’12 said at the time. “We had a winning record… since then we’ve lost three. We need to get that feeling back.”
The Bulldogs broke the losing streak last Wednesday with a 77–76 thrilling overtime victory over Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. Guard Austin Morgan ’13 converted a three-point play in the waning seconds of overtime to lead the Elis to their first win in 28 days.
Three days later against Baruch, the Bulldogs came out strong to win their second in a row. Five consecutive points from Mangano and bank shots from Morgan and Kreisberg helped Yale begin a 9–2 run. Three minutes later, a Michael Grace ’13 18-foot jump shot gave the Elis an 18–9 advantage. Bearcat guard CJ Jurewicz-Johnson then countered with six straight points to shrink the Yale advantage to three.
“We tried to penetrate and dump some passes off,” head coach James Jones said. “That hurt us.”
But Yale’s bench put the Elis back on track. Off the bench, guard Sam Martin ’13 and Anderson hit big shots to start a 12–2 run that would give the Bulldogs a 13-point advantage. Supported by an enthusiastic visiting crowd, Baruch fought back and capitalized on three Yale turnovers and closed the gap to 30–24. However, the Bulldogs regained control behind three-pointers from Morgan and Katz. The Elis entered the break with a 39–26 advantage. The team used nine assists to shoot 56 percent in the first half and held the Bearcats to 36.4 percent shooting.
“We stress making each other better, making the extra pass,” Mangano said. “That’s when we’re at our best.”
The Bulldogs’ teamwork was demonstrated five minutes into the second half. Leading 47–34, forward Reggie Willhite ’12 fed forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 in the low post. The freshman converted a low post turnaround bank shot. On the ensuing Baruch possession, the Bulldogs created a steal, allowing Willhite to throw down a fast break slam dunk. Morgan then picked up an errant Baruch pass and fired a fast break alley oop pass in Willhite’s direction. Although Willhite was unable to convert the layup, a trailing Mangano tipped home the the miss. The minute long sequence started a 13–0 Yale run that put the game out of the Bearcats’ reach.
Yale played a stellar second half in which twelve Elis scored as the team outscored Baruch 46–31. In addition, the Bulldogs did not turn the ball over after committing nine first-half turnovers.
“We have shown that we’re capable of playing at a very high level,” Jones said. “The consistency is the question.”
Mangano added 3 blocks to his double-double. Guard Brian Katz ’12 recorded a career-high 16 points in 11 minutes. Kreisberg was also in double figures with 11 points. The freshman has reached double digits in points in each of his last four games.
“Jeremiah’s been playing great,” Mangano said. “As a freshman, it’s tough to do that.”
Baruch guard Tammer Farid led the visitors with 14 points. Forward Chris Beauchamp, the Bearcats’ leading scorer, was held to 10 points.
The Bulldogs begin Ivy League conference play next Saturday against Brown at 2 p.m. in Providence, R.I.