The men’s basketball team had its first weekend split of conference play, but maintained its third-place spot in the Ivy League.
On Friday, the Bulldogs (12–10, 5–3 Ivy) committed 18 turnovers in a narrow 78–75 loss at Harvard (18–4, 7–1). But they rebounded a night later as center Greg Mangano ’12 scored 30 points to lead the Elis past Dartmouth (5–17, 1–7) 69–60 in Hanover, N.H.
Saturday night’s matchup with Harvard was another thriller to add to the list of iconic Harvard-Yale athletic events. In a game that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes, neither team led by more than six points. But Harvard ultimately came out on top, establishing a 78–72 lead with five seconds left in the game to quash the Bulldogs’ hopes for victory.
“We played hard, but we turned the ball over too much which pretty much did us in,” point guard Porter Braswell ’11 said. “We played well, and we’re upset that we lost the game, but it wasn’t due to a lack of hustle or because we didn’t execute our plays the right way or anything like that.”
The Bulldogs had the advantage early as a Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 dunk gave Yale a 6–4 lead four minutes into the game. The Elis held onto the lead until a Keith Wright dunk tied the game at 18 with 10:17 to go in the first half. Austin Morgan ’13 and Mangano later hit consecutive three-pointers that pushed the Bulldogs to a 26–22 advantage, but three free throws from Crimson guard Christian Weber and a Kyle Casey jumper moved the Crimson ahead. Six lead changes and seven and a half minutes later, Porter Braswell ’11 hit two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 39–38 halftime lead.
The Crimson got off to a fast start to begin the second half. An 8–1 Harvard run gave the Crimson a six-point lead just over two minutes into the half, but a three-pointer and layup from Mangano closed the gap to one. The two teams battled over the next eight minutes to ties at 53, 55, 57 and finally at 60 when Morgan sank a three-point shot to even things up with 8:17 left in the game.
A Casey three-point play and a Laurent Rivard trey instigated an 8–2 Harvard run. But two Morgan free throws helped Yale counter with an 8–2 run of its own, leaving the score tied at 70 with 1:37 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that would be the last tie of the game. Harvard pushed ahead for good after a layup from Weber and two Brandyn Curry free throws. Although Morgan hit two free throws to bring Yale within two with 29 seconds left, a Wright dunk and a subsequent Mangano miss put the game out of reach. A Morgan three-pointer as time expired proved useless as Harvard came away with the win.
Morgan led the Bulldogs with 22 points and four assists. Mangano finished with 19 points, four rebounds and three blocks. Kreisberg tallied the first double-double of his career with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“We felt that we had an advantage at the four spot,” Braswell said. “We looked to give Jeremiah the ball, and he did a great job. He played a great game for us and kept us in the game. It just comes down to matchups and creating opportunities to play well and he did.”
Casey paced the Crimson with 18 points. Wright added 17 points and five rebounds. Yale won the rebound battle 30–24 and shot 52 percent, but it was not enough. As a team, Harvard shot 50.9 percent from the field and scored 22 points off of Yale turnovers.
One day after the frustrating defeat in Cambridge, Mass., the Bulldogs headed north for a matchup with one of the Ivy League’s worst at Dartmouth. The Big Green have struggled as of late with only one win in their last 10 games, and things only got tougher against a Mangano-led Bulldog squad.
“You’ve got to brush it off really quickly,” Braswell said about the game against Harvard. “You have to have a short memory. You talk about it in the locker room and that’s it. You move on.”
Kreisberg started the game off with a jumper, and Mangano followed up with a field goal two minutes into the game to give the Bulldogs a quick 4–0 lead. Five straight points from forward Reggie Willhite ’12 extended the Eli advantage to 9–4. From that point onward, it was all Mangano. The junior big man scored 13 of the Bulldogs remaining 18 first-half points to give them a 27–24 lead at the break. A three-point play from Dartmouth’s Matt Labove tied things at 22 with 2:30 to go in the first half, but that would be the closest the Big Green would get as the Bulldogs would hold the lead for the remainder of the game.
A 7–2 Eli run to start the second half put Yale in the driver’s seat. With 10:17 remaining, a three-pointer from Darmouth’s Gediminas Bertasius shrank the Yale lead to five, but two Willhite free throws and four points from Mangano helped the Bulldogs secure the lead. The two teams traded points from that point onward. With two minutes to go and a nine point lead, the Bulldogs turned to Braswell to close the game out. The senior point guard scored the Bulldogs final nine points to capture the victory.
“This is a tough place to play,” head coach James Jones said in a press release. “I’m proud of our guys. They executed really well. We took too many jump shots in the first half, but in the second half we concentrated on getting the ball inside.”
Willhite contributed 13 points, three steals and a block. Mangano finished with 30 points on 11 of 19 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks. The center’s points were even more important as the rest of the Elis shot only 28.9 percent from the field. After committing 18 turnovers against Harvard, the Bulldogs lowered that number to 10 against the Big Green.
Tyler Melville and Labove led Dartmouth with nine points each. Labove also had eight rebounds. The Big Green relied on their reserves, as the bench accounted for 25 of Darmouth’s 60 points. As a team, the Big Green shot 39.3 percent.
“We played good defense,” Braswell said. “We pretty much locked them down. They did a lot of one-on-one plays so when they did score, it was off of one-on-one stuff.”
Mangano’s outburst against Dartmouth is another example of how valuable the big man has been to the Elis this year. In league play, Mangano leads the conference with 19.4 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game. The Elis will need similarly strong performances from Mangano if they want to keep winning. Mangano is averaging 18.2 points and 10.9 rebounds in Yale’s 12 wins this season, but only 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds in the team’s losses.
“He’s just really tough to defend because he can go inside and out,” Morgan said. “We’re all looking for Greg because we know he can deliver.”
At 5–3 in conference play, the Bulldogs are in third place in the Ivy League behind 7–0 Princeton and 7–1 Harvard. With home games against each of the two leaders still remaining, the Bulldogs’ hopes of an Ivy League title are not completely out of reach. Cornell won the league title with three losses in the 2008-’09 season.
The Bulldogs will be back in action on Friday night, as they host the Princeton Tigers (19–4, 7–0) at 7 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater. On Saturday, they will match up with the visiting Penn Quakers (9–12, 3–4) at 7 p.m.