While the rest of campus was snowed in this weekend, the men’s basketball team got hot on its southward road trip to propel itself up the Ivy League standings.
For the first time since the 1986-’87 season, Yale (9–14, 3–3 Ivy) swept the Penn-Princeton road trip. The Bulldogs started by downing Penn (5–17, 2–3 Ivy) 68–59, before finishing up the weekend with a 69–65 upset at Princeton (11–8, 4–1 Ivy).Forward Armani Cotton ’15 said that losing at both Harvard and Dartmouth for the first time under head coach James Jones last weekend made this weekend’s victories even more signficiant.
“[The history] didn’t really sink in until we accomplished the sweep of the Killer P’s,” Cotton said. “We made history at both ends.”
Cotton led the Elis to Friday’s win in the historic Palestra at Penn with a game-high 15 points. Yale overcame a three-point halftime deficit to put the Quakers away.
Both Cotton and Jones credited Yale’s “tenacious” efforts on the offensive glass with helping the Bulldogs pull out the victory.
Yale held a 21–13 edge in offensive rebounds over Penn and scored 19 second-chance points. Although the Bulldogs shot just 33.9-percent (19–56) from the floor, Jones said that he was encouraged by his team’s effort on Friday.
“Austin [Morgan ’13] had a tough night shooting on Friday,which was great for us,” Jones said. “It showed that we could win as a team. … We got a good team effort.”
Morgan, who leads the team with 11.6 points per game, scored nine points on just 1–10 shooting.
Shooting was not the problem on Saturday night, as the Elis made a blistering 54.8-percent (23–42) of their field goals against the Tigers. Captain Sam Martin ’13 said that good shot selection contributed to Yale’s hot shooting.
“We shot the ball really well,” Martin said. “But we [also] got good shots.”
The Elis hit 13 of their 20 first-half shots and five of nine from beyond the arc to take a 34–26 advantage into the break. The Tigers came back to tie it at 53-all with 6:55 remaining, but two free throws by forward Nick Victor ’16 put Yale ahead for good.
The Tigers made a final push with less than a minute remaining as a 3 by junior Will Barrett pulled Princeton within two with 40 seconds to go, but Morgan sank both of his free throws with three seconds left to put the game away. He currently ranks third in Division I with a .918 free throw-shooting percentage.
In addition to the team’s offensive efficiency, Jones and Cotton credited Yale’s two-three zone with helping to topple a Princeton team that had been undefeated in the Ancient Eight.
“Within our zone we always made sure that we kept the ball out of the paint,” Cotton said.
After Harvard’s 78–63 loss to Columbia Sunday afternoon, Yale sits just two games out of the top spot in the Ivy League. With six of their final eight games at home, Jones said that the schedule begins to work in the Bulldogs’ favor after a four-game road trip.
Yale returns home this Friday to host Cornell (11–12, 3–3) at 7:00 p.m.