Another Ivy League weekend, another split for the men’s basketball team.
After falling to powerful No. 25 Cornell 90–71 Friday night, the Bulldogs bounced back with a convincing 79–64 win at Columbia (8–12, 2–4) Saturday.
The Big Red (20–3, 6–0), ranked for the first time since 1951, shot a devastating 48.1 percent from three-point land, and 47.8 percent overall from the field. Forward Jon Jaques’s 17 points led a quartet of Cornell players in double figures, and the Cornell defense forced 11 turnovers en route to the victory.
The Big Red came out hot from the start, scoring the game’s first five points and opening up a 23–9 lead. The Elis answered with a 21-12 run culminating in a big three-pointer from guard Austin Morgan ’13 to cut the lead to four. But that was as close as they would get, never cutting the deficit to less than 10 the rest of the way.
One bright spot in the loss was the play of Yale’s bench, which contributed 32 points to the victory. Reggie Willhite ’12 led the way for the non-starters scoring 10 points on perfect shooting: 3-3 from the field and 4-4 for the line. Morgan also delivered a strong performance with nine points.
The win was Cornell’s 17th in its last 18 games, and their fifth in Ivy League play. The Big Red have not trailed at any point in conference play.
Following the loss, the Elis traveled to New York City for a date with Columbia and a dose of sibling rivalry, as head coach James Jones faced off against brother Joe, the coach of the Lions.
The Bulldogs bounced back from Friday’s loss in a big way, scoring 48 points on 54.8 percent shooting to open up a 48–29 lead at the half.
“We came out shooting really well and speaking on defense,” guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “We were all on the same page and executed our individual responsibilities.”
Captain Alex Zampier had a special day for the Elis, scoring 18 points including perfect 8-8 shooting from the free throw line. Among those points was the 1,000th of Zampier’s career, making him the 23rd player in Yale history to reach that number.
“It feels great,” Zampier said. “But it feels even better because it came in a win. It was a great team win to give us a good feeling going into the rest of our conference season.”
As it has been all year, play in the paint was key for the Elis, as big men Paul Nelson ’10 and Greg Mangano ’12 both scored in double digits. Mangano added 10 rebounds for the double-double, while Nelson contributed eight as the Bulldogs outrebounded the Lions 46-27.
“Play in the paint is very important to us,” Mangano said. “Good play in the paint sets up the rest of our offense.”
That offense cooled off after its spectacular first half, shooting just 5-18 from the field in the second period, but the Bulldogs were still able to extend their lead to 21 and never let the Lions within 10 points the rest of the way.
The Elis will need to build on that momentum as they head into next weekend, as crucial home dates with Harvard (15–5, 4–2) and Dartmouth (4–16, 0–6) loom. Yale currently stands fourth in the Ivy League, just behind Harvard and ahead of Penn.