With four games remaining in its season, the men’s basketball team has been all but eliminated from contention for the Ivy League title. The Elis would need not only to win the rest of their contests, but hope that Harvard drops its last four and Princeton goes 2–3 in its last five.
Yet as the team travels to New York for its last road trip of the season, Yale (11–16, 5–5 Ivy) still has plenty of motivation left in the tank. The Bulldogs will travel to Columbia to face the Lions (11–13, 3–7 Ivy) tonight and will head north to Ithaca to take on Cornell (13–14, 5–5 Ivy) on Saturday.
“We all love the game, and I think that’s the most important part,” team captain Sam Martin ’13 said.
The most important game of the weekend for the Elis will be their contest against the Big Red. The two squads are currently tied for third in the Ivy League, and a win would go a long way for either team to lock up third place. Martin noted that the trip to Ithaca is always a long drive and that the Elis will need to bring enough energy to face a Big Red team hungry to capture third.
The Bulldogs’ prior game against Cornell on Feb. 15 was one of their most heartbreaking losses of the season. The team fell 68–61, shooting 12–26 from the free throw line — including 5–15 in the second half. Guard Johnathan Gray and forward Shonn Miller led the Big Red in scoring that game with 18 apiece. Combined, the two accounted for more than half of Cornell’s points.
“I think we’re going to come out with a little bit more fire [on Saturday],” guard Javier Duren ’15 said. “I think that was our biggest downfall against Cornell the last time.”
Before facing the Big Red in a battle for third place, the Bulldogs will have to take care of business against a team out for revenge. The Elis faced Columbia at home two weekends ago and embarrassed the Lions, dealing Columbia the biggest defeat of its Ivy League slate, 75–56.
In order to have similar success, the Elis will again have to shut down, or at least limit, Columbia guard Brian Barbour. Despite leading the Lions in scoring this year at 11.9 points per game, Barbour managed only one point last time against Yale.
The Elis will also look to replicate its shooting performance from its last game against Columbia. Not only did the team hold its opponent to 40.9 percent shooting, but it also lit up the Lions, shooting 62.0 percent from the field. While no Eli tallied more than 10 points in the contest, all but two of the members of Yale’s roster scored.
“It’s a team effort,” Duren said. “We know what Barbour’s capable of. He’s a great player so I think it’s going to take a lot of team effort.”
As the season comes to a close, Eli seniors have begun to realize that only four games remain in their college careers. Martin said that this gives the seniors even more motivation to give it their all.
The Bulldogs will tip-off against the Lions at 7 p.m. at Levien Gym on Friday before facing the Big Red at the same time on Saturday at Newman Arena.