The men’s basketball team had a tough weekend at home.
The Bulldogs (12–12, 5–5 Ivy) could not dig themselves out of halftime deficits and fell 58–51 to Princeton and 60–58 to Penn. Yale center Greg Mangano ’12 set the school single-season blocks record, but turnovers were the issue against Princeton. Against Penn, a last second half-court shot caught the front rim, giving the Bulldogs their second loss in a row.
The weekend began Friday night against the Tigers, and in many ways, the Bulldogs had a first half to forget. The Elis were outrebounded 26–18, shot just 29 percent, and turned the ball over 10 times. As a result, the Bulldogs put themselves in a deep first-half deficit.
“We were turning the ball over, myself included,” Mangano said. “You can’t start a game like that against the number one team in the league and expect to come back and win even if you are in your own gym.”
It took three minutes for Yale to tally its first points when forward Reggie Willhite ’12 came off of a screen, took the pass from guard Austin Morgan ’13 and hit the jumper. At this point, Princeton began to slowly pull away from the Bulldogs. Early, the Tigers effectively denied Mangano the ball. Later, the Tigers tenaciously defended Yale drivers and forced turnovers. As a result, they cruised to a 30–18 halftime lead.
“For whatever reason, we looked unaware and out of sync to start the game — I have no idea why,” head coach James Jones said. “It took us until halftime to get refocused and to start playing the way that we’re capable of.”
The Elis put the pressure on Princeton early in the second half. A backdoor cut by Morgan and a beautiful bounce pass from Braswell closed the gap to seven points, two minutes into the half and reinvigorated the crowd.
“The crowd was on us the whole game, but that makes it a fun environment, and Yale has a good fan base,” Princeton guard Dan Mavraides said. “The place gets really loud even if we’re at shootaround there.”
After Princeton extended its lead to nine, a double-teamed Mangano hit a fade-away three-pointer from the corner as the shot clock expired. But one minute later, Mangano blasted through a Mavraides screen and was called for the intentional foul. The two Mavraides free throws helped Princeton extend its lead to 12.
But a three-point play from forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 and a transition layup from guard Porter Braswell ’11 jumpstarted the Bulldogs. Over a minute later, two Mangano free throws closed the gap to five.
After Princeton extended the lead to seven with 2:25 to play, Willhite intercepted an errant pass, cocked back, and threw down the fastbreak dunk. Then, with 1:45 to play, Willhite drove baseline and threw down another dunk that got the crowd on its feet and closed the gap to three. But Princeton’s Kareem Maddox retaliated with a three-point play, and the Bulldogs were unable to counter. Over the final minute, Princeton made enough of its free throws to secure the win.
Mangano finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds and six turnovers. His five blocks gave him the school record for single-season blocked shots. With 71 blocks, Mangano moves ahead of the previous record holder, Chris Dudley ’87.
“Some great guys have come through here and played here,” Mangano said. “It’s definitely an honor. [Dudley] went on to have a great career in the NBA. I’m honored to hold that with another year to play.”
Kreisberg finished with 13 points and six rebounds. As a team, the Bulldogs shot 37.6 percent and held Princeton to 31.8 percent shooting, but Princeton forced 15 Eli turnovers. Maddox finished with 16 points and nine rebounds; Mavraides added 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bulldogs were looking to bounce back against Penn but, for the second night in a row, a slow start hurt the Bulldogs.
A Morgan-assisted Mangano dunk gave the Bulldogs a 4–3 lead, but that would be the last Yale lead for a 21-minute period. After a Mangano free throw closed the Penn lead to 10–7, the Quakers started on an 18–4 run that would give them a 28–11 lead with six minutes remaining in the half. At that point, seven points from Willhite invigorated the Bulldogs and they battled back to make it 32–24 at the half.
“I think we have a problem with feeling out the game too much,” Braswell said. “I think people are tentative at first. We need to start being more aggressive and dictate the pace of the game.”
The Quakers shot 56 percent in the first half and held the Bulldogs to 36 percent from the field. Guard Tyler Bernardini led the Quakers at the half with 12 points while Mangano paced the Bulldogs with 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Willhite had 7 points and four assists.
A Kreisberg offensive rebound and put-back shrank the Penn lead to 36–31 two minutes into the second half. Then, Morgan hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and made two free throws to tie the game at 36. After Penn’s Miles Cartwright clanked his three-point attempt off the side of the backboard, Braswell sprinted down the court and sank a layup to give the Bulldogs the 38–36 lead with 16:18 remaining in the game. Penn’s Mike Howlett gave the Quakers the lead with a three-point play on the next possession. The two teams traded blows over the next nine minutes. Braswell sank two free throws to give the Bulldogs a 54–53 lead with 6:49 left.
After Penn retook the lead, Mangano banked in a shot to put the Bulldogs up 56–55, but was forced to leave for one possession due to an injury. On that possession, Tyler Bernardini gave the Quakers a two-point lead, but Mangano re-entered and countered with two. Despite a Penn turnover with 1:25 left, the Bulldogs could not convert and Penn got the ball with 30 seconds remaining. Zack Rosen waited for the clock to run down, then drove into the lane and hit a pull-up shot with 2.3 seconds remaining to give the Quakers a 60–58 lead. On the final possession of the game, Kreisberg inbounded the ball to Morgan who hoisted up a half-court shot that clanged off the front of the rim.
“It’s always tough to lose in the building,” Braswell said. “It’s just frustrating because we didn’t play to our potential. In both games, the first half killed us.”
Mangano finished with 26 points on 11 of 17 shooting and 11 rebounds in the loss. Braswell added 13 points. After only going nine of 25 from the field in the first half, the Bulldogs shot 52.2 percent in the second half. Bernardini led the Quakers with 16 points; Eggleston contributed nine points and 10 rebounds.
The loss pushes the Bulldogs to 5–5 in the conference and a tie for fourth in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs will be back in action next week as they host the Dartmouth Big Green Friday night at 7 p.m. On Saturday, the will battle the Harvard Crimson at 6 p.m. in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.