MEN’S BASKETBALL | Elis still have say in Ivy race

Matt Townsend ’15 had a career-high 19 points last weekend against Cornell.
Matt Townsend ’15 had a career-high 19 points last weekend against Cornell. Photo by Emilie Foyer.

Though Yale has been eliminated from Ivy League title contention, the Bulldogs can still play the spoiler this weekend as they take on Penn and Princeton.

Tied with Brown for third in the Ancient Eight, Yale (12–17, 6–6 Ivy) will host the first-place Tigers (16–9, 9–2 Ivy) on Friday. The following night, the Quakers (8–20, 5–6) will come to the John J. Lee Amphitheater to wrap up the Elis’ regular season. Forward Matt Townsend ’15 said that the Bulldogs still have a lot to play for.

“At this point it’s very much a pride thing,” Townsend said. “And also for our seniors … giving them a good send off.”

Before the seniors suit up for their final home game on Saturday, the Elis will have a chance to stir up the standings when they play the Tigers. Princeton currently sits a half-game over Harvard for first place in the Ivy League. A victory by the Elis would open the door for the Crimson to force a one-game playoff or even win the league championship, and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament that comes with it, outright.

“We’re very cognizant of the fact that we could play spoiler,” guard Austin Morgan ’13 said. “But at the same time we have to try not to focus on where the other team is in the standings and instead focus on where we are and playing our game.”

Four weeks ago, the Elis upset both Penn and Princeton on the road, sweeping the “killer P’s” road trip for the first time since head coach James Jones came to Yale over 13 years ago.

Morgan said that containing forward Ian Hummer would be critical to the Bulldogs’ attempt to sweep the season series against the Tigers. Hummer is averaging 16.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and four assists per game on the season.

For Morgan and fellow senior guards Mike Grace ’13 and Sam Martin ’13, the weekend will be bittersweet, as it will mark the final two games the trio will take the court for Yale.

“It’s definitely sad,” Martin said. “But it’s also gonna be a lot of fun at the same time. I’ve had a great time with these guys — they’re great teammates. I’m sad that it’s gonna come to an end and, as a captain, it’s tough that we didn’t accomplish our goals, so I take some of the responsibility for that.”

Although the Elis will fail to end their 52-year NCAA tournament drought, they were still able to outperform expectations this season. Picked sixth in the preseason Ivy League media poll, the Bulldogs enter the final weekend of conference play with a chance to finish third in the league. Townsend stated the team has been playing with a chip on its shoulder.

“Coming into the season, the whole team knew we had the talent to finish better than what [the media poll] predicted,” Townsend said.

The Elis will tip off their final home stand of the season at 7 p.m. tonight.

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