The men’s basketball team’s overtime thriller with Dartmouth and “Senior Night” battle against Harvard will be remembered by its participants for a long time.
The Bulldogs (14–12, 7–5 Ivy) beat Dartmouth (5–21, 1–11) 79–75 in overtime with the help of 19 points from point guard Porter Braswell ’11. One night later, a Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 bucket with 41 seconds remaining gave Yale a 70–69 win over Harvard (21–5, 10–2). Harvard’s Brandyn Curry’s shot rolled off the rim as time expired giving Yale the win on “Senior Night.”
As Curry’s shot missed, Yale players rushed the court. The student section, which had been trading barbs with an enthusiastic group of Harvard supporters throughout the game, joined them in a mosh pit at halfcourt.
“I was asked a question early this week ‘what is your fondest memory of Yale?’,” Braswell said. “That [game] right there is my best memory of Yale, hands down, by far.”
Yale moved up to third place in the Ivy League standings after the pair of wins, but, with just two games remaining in the season, the championship is out of the Bulldogs’ reach.
In Friday night’s matchup, Dartmouth got off to a good start and held the lead for the majority of the game’s first 12 minutes. With 8:19 remaining in the half, Dartmouth’s R.J. Griffin nailed a three-pointer to give the Big Green a 23–17 lead. Yale countered, however, with a 8–0 run sparked by a Braswell layup. After taking a 27–25 lead, the Bulldogs held the advantage until a dunk from Dartmouth’s Clive Weeden gave the Big Green a 33–32 lead that they would carry into the half.
“Dartmouth did a real nice job,” head coach James Jones said in a press release. “They’ve shown they are capable of being pretty good. They beat Cornell by [seven] and had a lead on Harvard in the second half. They made some shots, and we didn’t do a good job of stopping penetration.”
The second half was just as back-and-forth as the first. A free throw from Dartmouth’s Ronnie Dixon tied things at 59 with just under three minutes to go in the contest. After Braswell and the Big Green’s David Rufful traded layups, guard Austin Morgan ’13 hit a jumper to give Yale a 63–61 advantage with two minutes left. A Kreisberg foul on Rufful led to two game-tying free throws, but Kreisberg got right back by drawing a foul on Rufful and hitting both free throws. Trailing 65–63 with less than a minute remaining, Dartmouth turned to Dixon who, with 47 seconds left, made a layup that evened the game at 65 and drew a foul. After Dixon missed the ensuing free throw, the Big Green came down with the rebound but were unable to score. On Yale’s possession, Morgan’s three-pointer as time expired was off target, sending the game to overtime.
In the extra frame, two layups got Dartmouth out to a quick four-point advantage. After Braswell made two free throws, the Bulldogs turned to guard Isaiah Salafia ’14, who sank a three to give the Elis the one-point lead.
“If you don’t have confidence to shoot it, you shouldn’t be out there,” Salafia said in a press release. “Coach told me in the huddle not to be tentative. It was definitely a relief when it went in.”
A Greg Mangano ’12 jumper and two free throws from Salafia helped Yale extend the lead and the Bulldogs were able to pull away in the closing minutes for the 79–75 victory.
Mangano finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks, his 11th double-double of the season. Forward Reggie Willhite ’12 tallied his first double-double of the season with 10 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Kreisberg added 14 points and six rebounds. Salafia finished with seven points. Dixon led the Big Green with 18 points.
One night later, the Bulldogs took the court against Harvard. Before the game, senior guards Braswell, Raffi Mantilla ’11 and Alfonso Costa ’11 were honored with their families. After honoring players in the senior class, it would be the freshman, Kreisberg, who would start the scoring with two pretty baskets from the low post. Yale jumped out to an 8–4 lead, but Harvard battled back with a 9–2 run. The Crimson would take the lead and hold it for the remainder of the half, entering the locker room with a 35–31 lead.
The Bulldogs were unable to find an answer in the first half for the Crimson’s Kyle Casey and Christian Webster. The two tallied 11 points each through the first 20 minutes. Despite being outshot and outrebounded in the first half, the Bulldogs remained in the game due in large part to only one turnover.
“That’s a huge difference from the first game [against Harvard] for us,” Jones said. “We turned it over 18 times in the first game and lost by three and really didn’t give ourselves an opportunity to win. Our guys did a really nice job of handling their pressure and making plays without turning it over.”
The Bulldogs came out for the second half and turned immediately to Morgan. Morgan nailed a three-pointer 18 seconds into the half. After missing an attempt from beyond the arc, Morgan got another opportunity and swished another three to give the Bulldogs a 37–35 lead.
“The first five minutes of the half are always important, so I just tried to come out and be aggressive,” Morgan said. “Fortunately, I hit two threes and was able to get us going.”
The teams traded the lead over the next eight minutes until a Mangano jump shot gave Yale a 50–48 lead with 11:24 left. At that point, Harvard embarked on a 9–0 run that quieted a raucous Yale crowd. But Yale began to slowly claw its way back into the game. Another Morgan three-pointer with exactly five minutes remaining brought Yale within 61–60. After Harvard extended its lead to 66–64 with 2:42 to go, Braswell got to the line and sank two free throws to tie the game. After Curry missed a layup, Willhite took the ball and raced down the court for a layup.
But it was Webster, the Crimson player who gave Yale fits all game, who converted a three-point play with 55 seconds left to give Harvard a 69–68 lead. On the ensuing Bulldog possession, Willhite lobbed a pass over the outstretched arms of Casey and into the hands of Kreisberg for an easy layup.
“It was the best pass of the night,” Kreisberg said. “Reggie looked at me, looked away, and looked off the weakside help. He just threw it off the top — perfect pass.”
Although Harvard’s Laurent Rivard missed a three with 30 seconds left, the Crimson came down with the offensive rebound and called a timeout. On the final play of the game, Harvard passed the ball on the perimeter until, in the closing seconds, Curry took the ball and drove into the lane for a shot over Mangano that could not find the bottom of the net.
As the clock buzzed, the team and Yale students rushed the court in celebration of the Bulldogs’ first home victory over Harvard since 2008.
“The crowd was rocking,” Braswell said. “It was awesome when they charged the court.”
Braswell finished with nine points while Morgan led the Elis with 16 points. Willhite contributed 15 points and eight assists. Mangano added another double-double of 11 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks, as fellow big man Kreisberg ended with 13 points. The Bulldogs finished with only three turnovers.
Webster led the Crimson with 22 points. Casey added 13 points and eight rebounds in only 25 minutes.
The Bulldogs will complete their season next weekend, as they travel to Columbia Friday night for 7 p.m. game before heading north to Cornell for a 7 p.m. matchup Saturday night.