With another strenuous Yale semester about to commence, the men’s basketball team managed to keep stress levels at a minimum by coasting to a 88–49 victory over Baruch College on Saturday.
The much-needed Saturday afternoon victory for Yale at Payne Whitney Gymnasium not only snapped a four-game losing skid, it also capped off the difficult nonconference portion of the Bulldogs’ schedule.
Baruch (7–7, 4–2 City University of New York Athletic Conference), a Division III opponent, kept close to the Bulldogs early on thanks to a combination of hot shooting and some careless play by Yale (6–8, 0–0 Ivy). However, a 14–13 Bearcat advantage was soon erased by the Elis.
A three-pointer by guard Isaiah Salafia ’14 put Yale ahead and also sparked a 42–10 run for the Bulldogs. At the half, Yale led 55–24 and the Elis’ sixth victory was practically in the books.
Keying the explosive half for Yale was some scorching perimeter offense, as the Bulldogs connected on seven of eight three-point attempts to widen their lead. The scoring was balanced across the roster, with 10 Elis scoring at least three points in the first 20 minutes of play.
The second half played out much the same way as the first half, with Yale getting solid three-point production once again and Baruch unable to find the firepower to answer.
Yale shot 55.9 percent for the game compared to Baruch’s 30.8 percent. The Elis also dominated the boards with their largest rebounding edge of the season, grabbing 44 rebounds to the Bearcats’ 23.
With the lopsided victory, head coach James Jones was able to utilize his entire roster and allow some players to gain valuable game-time experience. Once the demanding conference schedule begins this upcoming Saturday at home against Brown (8–6, 0–0 Ivy), Jones will have a better understanding of what some of his less experienced players can bring to the table.
“I always think we do get something out of games like this,” Jones said. “You get a chance to have guys that don’t normally have an opportunity to play, and you can mix some matchups here-and-there.”
Point guard Jack Montague ’16 took advantage of his time on the court. The sophomore got hot from beyond the arc, hitting on all four of his three-point attempts, to pace the Elis with a career-high 15 points and six assists.
Montague’s effort certainly did not go unnoticed by Jones.
“[Montague] did a great job finding his teammates and knocking down shots,” Jones said. “He played with a great deal of confidence and I think that that’s one of the things that’s missing from us at times.”
The only other Bulldog in double figures was forward Matt Townsend ’15, who racked up 10 points in addition to five rebounds in just 15 minutes of play. Townsend, who made his third consecutive start, has seen an uptick in his production the past few games.
Townsend said whether or not he starts does not have too much of an impact on his game.
“I don’t think being in the starting lineup or not has had a big psychological impact on me,” Townsend said. “Every time I go out, I just try to play 100 percent and give it my all. That’s been my approach at every game.”
Yale saw impressive performances all around as seven players scored at least five points and four players grabbed at least four rebounds.
Point guard Javier Duren ’15, who registered six points, seven rebounds, and six assists in limited playing time, said the team saw a big step up in their play offensively.
“Pretty much all season, we’ve struggled to find each other on offense,” Duren said. “With today’s game, I thought we did an excellent job of trying to make the play for others, being selfless, making the extra pass, and I think our offense flowed a little bit better.”
If the Bulldogs ever needed a relatively easy win, it was on Saturday. Until the win over Baruch, Yale had been held winless over winter break, dropping four contests to four strong opponents.
Each of the four teams that beat Yale over the break reached the postseason last year.
After a nine-day layoff for final exams, Yale’s winter break schedule began in heartbreaking fashion, as the Bulldogs were just barely edged out by Providence (11–5, 1–2 Big East) 76–74 on Dec. 17. The loss came in spite of a magnificent performance from forward Justin Sears ’16, whose 31 points were the most by a Bulldog since a 35-point effort from center Greg Mangano ’12 in 2012.
In the Elis’ next effort on Dec. 20, another career performance was overshadowed by a loss, as Duren’s 26 points were not enough to defeat Albany (8–8, 2–1 America East). The Bulldogs shot just 31.6 percent from the field in the 70–62 defeat.
The Midwest proved to be even less kind to the Bulldogs, as a talented Saint Louis (15–2, 2–0 A-10) squad spoiled the homecomings of Duren and center Will Childs-Klein ’15 on Jan. 4. The Billikens outworked the Bulldogs on the glass and scored 28 points off turnovers as they beat Yale 75–55.
To make matters worse, the Elis were stranded in Saint Louis an extra two days after nearly a foot of snow halted any transportation out of the city. Upon returning home, the friendly confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater did not end the Bulldogs’ losing ways.
In just their fourth home game in 13 contests, the Bulldogs fell short against Vermont (8–8, 2–0 AEC) by a final tally of 67–59. Townsend led the way with 11 points and Duren tacked on 10 of his own. An unexpected bright spot for Yale was the play of guard Anthony Dallier ’17, whose 10 points were the most thus far during his young career as a Bulldog.
After returning to the win column against Baruch, the Elis head into conference play with renewed confidence and excitement as the team has a chance to prove itself as a worthy contender for the Ivy crown.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Duren said. “I thought [the win] was a huge step up. It was just what we needed, especially heading into Ivy League play.”
Conference action will tip off on Saturday when Yale hosts Brown at 2:00 p.m. The Bears finished in fourth place in the Ivy League last year, one spot behind Yale.