Following its last matchup with Harvard, an 82-79 overtime affair that saw 12 lead changes, the Yale men’s basketball team had an added incentive coming into this weekend’s rematch against its archrival: revenge. Yet while they did not let the desire for payback distract them from Friday night’s game against Dartmouth, which the Bulldogs won 55-45, the Elis were unable to topple the Crimson, and dropped a 78–58 decision.
After staging a second-half comeback to secure the win against the Big Green (5–21, 1–11 Ivy) two weeks ago, the Bulldogs (11–18, 5–7) made certain they would not have to duplicate that effort Friday, jumping out to a six-point lead that they had extended to10 — 26–16 — by the end of a low-scoring first half.
Despite scoring just 26 points, the Bulldogs had nine different players score in the first 20 minutes, including six points from guard Austin Morgan ’13, who would add eight points in the second half en route to a career-high 14 points.
Forward Mike Sands ’11 also had a big day, recording 11 points and 11 rebounds to notch his first career double-double. Captain Alex Zampier ’10 added nine for the Bulldogs.
That 10-point halftime lead would prove to be the difference in the game, as Dartmouth matched the Elis in the second half, 29–29. Both teams had 20 turnovers, but Yale did a better job of capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes, as they turned those 20 turnovers into 13 points.
As it has been all year, play in the paint was also key for the Bulldogs, who scored 18 points down low and held the rebounding advantage 41–37.
After taking care of business Friday night, the Elis turned their focus to Harvard (20–6, 9–3). In a reversal of their start against the Big Green, the Bulldogs found themselves down 7-0 after just two minutes, forcing them to fight uphill the rest of the way.
“[Against Dartmouth], we got off to a good start and maintained that throughout the game,”guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “[Against Harvard] we got down early and were never able to really close the gap.”
That gap widened to 14 at halftime, despite 12 first-half points from Zampier and nine from Sands. Harvard held a six-point advantage in the paint, and outscored Yale’s bench 14-5 in the half.
Bob Cousy Award finalist and Harvard point guard Jeremy Lin opened the second half scoring with a lay-in that ensured the Crimson would maintain in control.
Harvard dominated the paint, scoring 20 points down low in the second half, while the Elis could muster just two. The Crimson also committed just 10 turnovers in the game, while scoring a decisive 26 points on 17 Yale mishaps.
Lin led Harvard with 26 points and five steals, as fellow guard Brandyn Curry scored 14. Kyle Casey was the only other Cantab in double figures, scoring 13 points on 5–9 shooting.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, had four scorers in double figures, as Sands (11), Braswell (10), Zampier (16), and Raffi Mantilla ’11 (10), all hit double digits.
The story of the day for the Elis, however, was defensive, as Zampier’s lone steal in the contest gave him 55 for the season, a new Yale single-season record. The captain has amassed an assortment of personal achievements this season, setting the Bulldogs’ all-time career steal record earlier this season, and becoming the 23rd player in Yale history with 1,000 career points.
“The records are cool, but I think we are all a little disappointed about the Ivy season,” Zampier said after the game. “Coming into this season we had a goal of winning a championship, and we weren’t consistent enough.”
Zampier and fellow seniors Paul Nelson ’10, Jordan Gibson ’10 and the injured Josh Davis ’10 will round out their Eli careers — and the season — next weekend as they take on Columbia and first-place Cornell at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Despite the disappointing record, if the play of underclassmen like Morgan and Sands this weekend is any indication, those seniors can pass the baton in full confidence that the program is moving in the right direction.
“The college game is a lot faster, and one has to be smarter when playing,” Morgan said of his development through the year. “I feel we have good team chemistry, and we are going to try to finish the season strong.”