An up and down men’s basketball season just hit another low.
The Bulldogs (9–9, 2–2 Ivy) could not handle the Killer P’s as they fell 66–58 at Penn (8–8, 2–0) on Friday and lost 67–63 at Princeton (14–4, 2–0) on Saturday. First half deficits in both games hurt the Elis who dropped to fifth in the Ivy League standings.
Looking to start 3–0 in Ivy League play for the first time in over ten years, the Bulldogs began the trip Friday night with a visit to the “Cathedral of College Basketball,” Penn’s Palestra. With over 3,000 fans on hand for Penn’s Ivy League opener, the Bulldogs started slow in the visiting environment, missing 14 of their first 16 shots. The struggles from the field for the Elis coupled with a strong Penn start got the Quakers out to a 24–6 advantage. Although Yale made a run toward the end of the half, Penn’s 50 percent field goal shooting put the Bulldogs at a 35–24 deficit.
“Penn’s a tough place to play on the road,” point guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “It was their season opener for the Ivy League. They came out with a tremendous amount of energy, and we didn’t match their energy level which is something that you can’t do on the road.”
Yale made the game more competitive in the second half. The defense shut down the Quaker offense and held Penn to 31.6 percent shooting. A Mangano jump shot with under eight to go pulled Yale within four.
“We weren’t tough enough in the first half,” head coach James Jones said in a press release. “We tried to flip it in the second half. We tried to push instead of being pushed.”
But a 7–3 Penn run gave the Quakers a comfortable advantage with 3:39 to play. Although guard Sam Martin ’13 nailed a jumper to get the lead down to five with under a minute to play, Penn proved too good at the charity stripe as they converted nine of 10 free throws in the final 1:38.
Mangano gave the Bulldogs another strong performance with team-highs 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Point guard Porter Braswell ’11 had 19 points on seven of 11 shooting, six rebounds and two steals. After starting the game two of 16 from the field, the team shot 50 percent for the remainder of the game.
“We tried to played the ball inside-out,” Austin Morgan ’13 said. “Our post game is the strength of our team, so we looked for them and then worked from there.”
Guard Miles Cartwright led the Quakers with 18 points while fellow guard Zack Rosen added 16 points and five assists. Forward Ian Eggleston chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds.
Things would not get easier as preseason Ivy League favorite Princeton awaited the Bulldogs Saturday night. The game got off to a fast start, as the Bulldogs and Tigers traded blows early. Morgan assisted a Mangano jumper before the Bulldogs scored eight straight points in the paint to take a 10–7 lead two and a half minutes into the game. Five minutes and five lead changes later, the score stood tied 20–20. But a three-pointer from Princeton’s Douglas Davis sparked a 16–5 Tiger run that led the Tigers to a comfortable 40–30 halftime lead.
“They are a very good defensive team,” Morgan said. “They got some stops and strung some baskets together, and that kind of hurt us.”
Despite good offensive play from the Elis early in the second half, the Bulldogs could not bite into the Princeton lead. For the first 14 minutes of the half, the Bulldogs could not pull any closer than nine. A Michael Grace ’13 jump shot brought the score to 50–41 seven minutes into the half, but Davis countered with a jumper. And although two Rhett Anderson ’12 free throws and a Reggie Willhite ’12 fastbreak jam each brought Yale’s deficit to nine, the Tigers responded each time.
“Princeton has a great shooting team. They execute their plays really well, and they finish everything at the basket,” Braswell said. “They’re just a good team. In order to come back from ten points down at Princeton, you have to play a flawless game.”
The back and forth pattern lasted until 5:21 remaining in the contest, when Morgan assisted a Mangano layup to make the score 63–55 Princeton. Martin then sank a free throw, and Morgan drilled a three-pointer and assisted a Willhite layup to make it 63–61. Following a Davis free throw, Morgan made two more from the charity stripe to make it a one point game with 1:30 to go. But the Bulldogs came no closer, as a Morgan turnover, a blocked Braswell shot, and three Tiger free throws iced the game for Princeton.
“We were just trying to take it play-by-play,” Morgan said. “There’s no such thing as a ten point play or anything. Everyone was contributing and we were fortunate enough to be able to have a chance at the end of the game.”
Willhite led the charge with 13 points and four steals. Morgan finished with 11 points and six assists. Mangano also had 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Anderson provided some energy off the bench and added eight points and five boards.
Princeton’s interior combo of forwards Kareem Maddox and Ian Hummer proved too much for the Bulldogs, though, as the two combined for 29 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks on 12 of 21 shooting. Individually, Davis led Princeton with 18 points.
The losses relegate the Bulldogs to fifth place in the Ivy League and will make the team’s goal of an Ivy League championship much more difficult. But Morgan knows that they cannot worry too much about the big picture.
“We have to keep progressing and taking it week by week and game by game, and get better each day,” Morgan said. “That’s all you can hope for.”
Next weekend, the Bulldogs will host Cornell (4–14, 0–4) on Friday night at 7 p.m. They will follow that with a match up Saturday night at 6 p.m. against Columbia (12–6, 3–1).