After a disappointing weekend stand at home, the Bulldogs have more questions than answers as they prepare for the remaining 10 games in Ivy League play.
Yale (13–5, 3–1 Ivy) was demolished by No. 23 Harvard (16–2, 4–0 Ivy) 65–35 Friday and barely overcame Dartmouth (4–16, 0–4 Ivy) 62–52 Saturday.
In the team’s most highly-anticipated game of the year — tickets had been sold out for three weeks and student tickets ran out in the first hour of distribution — the Bulldogs fell flat against archrival Crimson.
“It’s embarrassing,” forward Greg Mangano ’12 said. “That’s the word for it … We got embarrassed on our home court.”
Yale stayed within striking distance early and went into the half trailing the Cantabs 30–19. But the Crimson ran away with the contest in the second half, justifying their national ranking.
With the Crimson defense — who allow the fourth fewest points per game in Division I — pressuring the ball all night long, Yale shot just 31.7 percent from the floor. The Elis had more turnovers (22) than field goals made (13).
“There were several turnovers that I still don’t know how we lost the ball,” head coach James Jones said. “We just fumbled it out of our hands with no pressure at all.”
The Bulldogs had some success in the second half getting the ball inside to Mangano, but his 17 points were not enough to keep the game close. No other Eli had more than four points, whereas nine Cantabs contributed four or more points for Harvard.
When Yale took the court against Big Green Saturday, it still appeared shell-shocked from the previous night. With 8:43 left before intermission, Jones called a timeout with the Bulldogs trailing 23–15.
Whatever Jones said in the huddle must have worked, because the Elis stormed out of the timeout and took the lead.
Mangano hit a three and then guard Mike Grace ’13 followed suit from beyond the arc before Mangano’s layup evened the score at 23. The Bulldogs went on a 12–0 run and led 33–26 at intermission.
Yale came off the block slowly again in the second, but Austin Morgan ’13 had the hustle play of the game when he raced down the court and prevented a breakaway layup from Big Green guard Tyler Melville.
“Austin is a hustle-hustle player,” captain Reggie Willhite ’12 said. “For him to chase that down and block it when everybody else thought that it was going to be a layup and two going the other way … that got people going … It brings a little bit of positive to the negatives that we’re having.”
The Elis went down 44–41 after a triple from Jabari Trotter, but then Willhite went off. Over the course of the next 4:34, Willhite scored nine straight points as the Bulldogs went on a 9–2 run. He had a game-high 16 points.
Willhite said that his scoring was done within the flow of the game — meaning that he executed his shots within the framework of the offense.
“I don’t really think that it’s a matter of me realizing that I had to take the game over,“ Willhite said. “It’s just when somebody’s scoring on our team, our team tends to look to find that person in the offense. My teammates were looking for me, and I was able to capitalize.”
Willhite’s performance helped the Bulldogs to overcome 19 turnovers and beat a Dartmouth team that has dropped nine of its last 10 contests.
Although Jones said that Dartmouth has played most of its opponents close all year long, the Bulldogs were disappointed with its performances over the weekend.
“At this point in the season we can go one of two ways,” Willhite said. “We could either splinter, or we could come together as a team and revamp what we’re trying to do as an organization … We have a lot of work to do.”
The loss to Harvard snapped a home winning streak that spanned eight games and 342 days. Yale won those games by an average margin of 17 points per game.