M. BASKETBALL | Elis host Cornell, Columbia

The men’s basketball team hopes to end a two-game losing streak in conference play when it plays Cornell and Columbia this weekend.
The men’s basketball team hopes to end a two-game losing streak in conference play when it plays Cornell and Columbia this weekend. Photo by Charlie Croom.

After a tough weekend against the Killer P’s, the men’s basketball team will host a couple of C’s.

Friday night, the Bulldogs (9–9, 2–2 Ivy) will host the Cornell Big Red (4–14, 0–4) before meeting the Columbia Lions (12–6, 3–1) Saturday evening. The Elis will try to rebound after losing 66–58 at Penn and 67–63 at Princeton a week ago.

Guard Porter Braswell ’11 is averaging 10.6 points per game this season on 43 percent shooting from the field.
Guard Porter Braswell ’11 is averaging 10.6 points per game this season on 43 percent shooting from the field.

Last weekend, the Bulldogs made the trek southwest for the annual Killer P’s road match ups. In Friday night’s game with Penn, the Elis started flat, missing 14 out of their first 16 shots. Although they closed the gap and came within four several times in the second half, the Quakers proved too much and escaped with a four-point win. Center Greg Mangano ’12 led the Elis with 20 points, eight rebounds and three blocks. Point guard Porter Braswell ’11 added 19 points.

A night later, Yale took on Princeton and fell behind in the first half once again. Trailing by 10 with just over five minutes to go in the contest, guard Austin Morgan ’13 helped lead the Bulldogs on a run to close the deficit to one with 1:30 remaining. But two failed Bulldog offensive possessions and three Tiger free throws handed Princeton the win. Morgan finished with 11 points and six assists. Forward Reggie Willhite ’12 led Yale with 13 points and four steals.

Also against Princeton, forward Rhett Anderson ’12 came off the bench to contribute eight points and five rebounds, but the Tigers’ bench outscored the Bulldogs’ 22–12. The players know that they will need a strong effort from their starters and reserves if they want to win both games this weekend.

“I think it’s huge that any number of guys on any given night can step in and hit big shots,” Anderson said. “It really spreads our offense out and that makes the defense commit to everyone on the floor instead of collapsing onto Greg or collapsing onto Austin. It makes the defense more honest which gives us better shots, and we’re able to run what we want to.”

The Bulldogs will get a chance to bounce back Friday night against an Ivy League cellar dweller in Cornell. After being ranked nationally and making it to the Sweet Sixteen a season ago, the Big Red are a completely different team. Former head coach Steve Donahue made the jump to Boston College, and five of last year’s six leading scorers are gone. This year’s team is led by guard Chris Wroblewski, the only returning starter. The junior is averaging 15 points per game, 5.7 assists and 1.4 steals.

Unlike Cornell, a team that has fallen after a few very successful seasons, Columbia will enter the John J. Lee Amphitheater on the rise. At 12–6, Columbia is looking at its first winning season since 2007, and they can thank big man Noruwa Agho for leading the way. The junior guard is averaging 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game this year. The Lions are also strong on the boards despite not having an outstanding individual rebounder. Asenso Ampim leads the team with only 5.7 rebounds per game, but Columbia is out-rebounding opponents by an average of 5.7 per game. The Bulldogs are fourth in rebounding margin at -0.4, and rebounding could be the deciding factor.

Victories over Cornell and Columbia would go a long way toward getting Yale back into Ivy League championship contention. Currently, the Bulldogs sit in fifth. Harvard leads the pack at 4–0.

“We just have to come out with a ton of energy,” Braswell said of this weekend’s games. “We can’t get down 8–0 or 10–2. We have to come out and dictate the pace and tempo of the game, and we have to play lockdown defense and really push the ball. We just have to control the game.”

Friday night’s match up with Cornell is Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Night and is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. The Bulldogs will battle Columbia at 6 p.m. Saturday as part of Class of 2014 Night.

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