A disappointing home split may have taken Yale out of the Ivy League title race just a week after a surprising road sweep thrust the Elis back into the conversation.
The Elis (10–15, 4–4 Ivy) let Cornell slip away with a 68–61 win, but rebounded to dispatch Columbia (10–12, 2–6 Ivy) in a 75–56 blowout. Yale fell to three games behind Ivy League-leading Harvard after the Crimson swept Penn and Princeton at home. Yale now sits in fourth place in the conference, behind Harvard, Princeton and Cornell, with just six games remaining to make up the difference.
Guard Javier Duren ’15 said that the Bulldogs must work on being more consistent.
“The story [against Cornell] was that we didn’t come out aggressive enough,” Duren said. “Once we finally got going we were battling the whole game.”
The Big Red (13–12, 5–3 Ivy) jumped out to an 11–2 advantage in the first six-and-a-half minutes thanks in part to five Yale turnovers. Captain Sam Martin ’13 propelled the Elis back to within two points by scoring 10 straight points as part of a 10–2 Yale run. Martin hit three of his four attempts from beyond the arc for the game. Center Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 tied the score at 22 on two free throws a minute later and Yale went into the half trailing by just three, 30–27.
Guard Austin Morgan ’13 picked up where the Bulldogs left off, tying the game at 30 with a 3-pointer just seconds into the second half. Six lead changes later the Elis tied it up again at 59 on a free throw by forward Justin Sears ’16 with 3:03 to go. Two quick 3-pointers by Cornell, however, gave the Big Red the lead and put Yale away for good.
Yale’s Achilles’ heel against Cornell on Friday was free throw shooting. The Elis shot just 46.2 percent (12–26) from the line during the game, including a dismal 5–15 performance in the second half.
“We came out pretty flat and we gave up a lot of open shots defensively,” forward Brandon Sherrod ’15 said in a message to the News. “Add that on to a number of missed free throws that we usually knock down, and it’s hard to win.”
But the Bulldogs did not let Friday’s struggles flow over into the next game. The Elis scored the first nine points against the Lions and held Columbia scoreless for the first five minutes. Yale shot a scorching 66.7-percent (18–27) from the floor in the first half and opened up a 43–21 halftime lead.
“I thought we came out on our heels for whatever reason versus Cornell,” Jones said. “Our starting group’s got a lot of pride and it was something they felt bad about [Friday] night, so I thought that we had much more of a charge and much more energy [against Columbia].”
Although less dominant in the second half, the Bulldogs coasted to a 19-point victory over the Lions. Thirteen different players scored for Yale and eight Elis contributed at least six points. Morgan said that the team’s balance makes the Bulldogs difficult to defend.
“That’s the really fantastic quality about our team,” Morgan said. “When one person gets scoring you try to stop him and then another person gets scoring. Like there are 12 leaks in a sink: If you try to stop one, another one gets stronger.”
Columbia’s star point guard Brian Barbour was held scoreless and limited to one assist in just 21 minutes a night after not playing at Brown due to illness.
Jones added that Yale was able to take advantage of some of Columbia’s smaller lineups for easy looks inside. The Bulldogs shot 70-percent (28–40) from inside of the three-point range for the night.
Yale remains at home next weekend to host Dartmouth (6–16, 2–6 Ivy) on Friday and Harvard (15–7, 7–1 Ivy) on Saturday. The Elis have home games remaining against both Harvard and Princeton, but Yale will need significant help from the other teams in the conference to make a run at the Ivy crown.
Friday’s game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:00 p.m.