The men’s basketball team earned its second straight weekend split, taking a 61–48 decision from Penn (2–14, 1–1) before dropping a 58–45 contest to Princeton (11–5, 2–0). The split sends the Elis’ record to 2–2 in conference play and 8–13 overall — good for fourth in the Ivy League behind league-leading Cornell, Princeton and Harvard.
The Quakers entered Friday’s game in bad shape, with a 1–13 record, having recently dismissed their head coach and with leading scorer Zack Rosen out of the starting lineup due to a violation of team rules. The Bulldogs showed no mercy, as the Quakers found themselves down 11–0 after four minutes of play.
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“This week in practice we focused a lot on transition,” guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “We talked about looking down the floor to the big men. The opportunity presented itself to run the floor early in the game, and we took advantage.”
The Elis continued their hot start throughout the first half, using eight first-half points, including two three-pointers from Braswell to open up a lead as big as 15 before heading to the break up 31–20.
The Elis built their lead to 13 in the first five minutes of the second half, but a 10–3 run by the Quakers reduced the lead to just six with 10 minutes to go.
Reggie Willhite ’12 then scored four quick points to build the lead back to double digits, and the Bulldogs never looked back, riding six more Braswell points en route to the 61–48 win.
“Porter’s been a lot better the last four or five games,” head coach James Jones said. “It was key for us in a game that Alex [Zampier ’10] didn’t score. It was nice to see other guys step up and do what they’re capable of.”
Greg Mangano ’12 also stepped up, contributing 10 points and seven rebounds in the win. Mike Sands ’11 added eight points, and guard Austin Morgan ’13 scored five.
After scoring just nine points in Friday’s win, Ivy League player of the week, captain and leading scorer Zampier was out of the starting lineup for Saturday’s contest. Sands led the way for the Elis with 14 points, and Zampier came off the bench to score 13. But though Princeton’s Douglas Davis was the lone Tiger in double figures, the Elis’ efforts were not enough to give Yale the weekend sweep.
Despite not matching his season scoring average of 17.8 points per game on the offensive end, Zampier made an impact defensively, and his steal with nine minutes to go in the second half marked the 157th of his career, tying him for the school’s all-time lead.
The Zampier-led defense could not match the effort of the Tigers, who held Yale to just 35 percent shooting, including 30 percent from three-point land. Princeton forced 14 Bulldog turnovers, while forcing eight steals in the contest. The Elis, on the other hand, surrendered 51 percent shooting, including 37.5 percent from behind the arc.
Yale finished the first half down five and saw that deficit double just three minutes in. The Bulldogs continued to battle, chipping away at the Tigers’ lead before tying the game up on a Zampier jumper with 10 minutes remaining.
Davis responded with a basket to reestablish a lead, and the Bulldogs never recovered, as Princeton pulled away in the final minutes to take the 58–45 victory.
The Elis will need to bounce back from the loss quickly, as Friday brings a trip to Ithaca for a matchup with Ivy League leader Cornell (18–3, 3–0).
“We missed on some home court opportunities,” Morgan said. “We still feel confident in our ability to be successful in the league. Going forward we have to come together and steal some wins on the road in the next few weeks.”
After the matchup with Cornell, the Elis will drive down to New York for a Saturday evening date with Columbia. The third weekend of Ivy League play gets underway at 7 p.m. on Friday in Ithaca.