Despite a close loss to Seton Hall on Tuesday, the men’s basketball team proved it was more than “Army strong” on Saturday to salvage a split on its Thanksgiving break road trip.
The Elis had looked to start the break with an upset victory over the Seton Hall Pirates from the dynamo Big East conference at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., but the team spoiled an eight-point lead in the first half to lose 73–62.
Down 41–31 early in the second half, preseason Ivy League Player of the Year Greg Mangano ’12 carried the team offensively with six straight points to cut the Eli deficit to two. Mangano displayed his versatility, first shooting over Big East Player of the Week Herb Pope and then pulling up to drain a jumper off a drive. Mangano finished the run by hitting a layup off a feed from Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14, whose drive along the baseline had collapsed the Seton Hall defense.
Ball movement was key to the Bulldogs’ early success against Seton Hall. The Pirates responded by switching to zone defense, a strategy that head coach James Jones said threw off his team. This allowed the Pirates to stop Yale despite a strong showing from the Elis.
“I honestly think we were the better team, although the scoreboard didn’t reflect that,” guard Mike Grace ’13 said. “We weren’t mentally tough enough even though we thought we should have won the game.”
At a press conference, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard agreed with Grace’s assessment and admitted that Yale played “harder and better.”
But the difference between victory and defeat for the Elis came down to turnovers. The Bulldogs coughed the ball up 22 times compared to the Pirates’ 15 turnovers.
A season-high 13 steals highlighted the Pirates’ defensive pressure. Jordan Theodore and Fuguan Edwin led the way with five steals apiece.
If the Bulldogs were discouraged after their loss to Seton Hall, they did not show it against Army on Saturday at Christl Arena in West Point, NY. Yale used an early 23–6 run to overcome an early nine-point deficit. Guard Austin Morgan ’13 provided the early firepower, scoring 10 points during the run and 19 in the first half to hold off the Black Knights’ charge.
“My teammates were looking for me, and I was feeling it,” Morgan said. “I was able to knock down some early shots to really get me going.”
Army recaptured a slim one-point lead with 13:17 left in the second half, but the Bulldogs answered with a 24–9 run to seal their victory.
Morgan led the Bulldogs with 27 points, but he was not alone: three Elis scored in double digits. Mangano and Kreisberg both posted double-doubles to aid the Bulldogs in outrebounding the Black Knights 48–34. Mangano collected 14 rebounds to complement his season-high 25 points. Kreisberg turned in his second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Whereas the Pirates forced 22 turnovers to sink Yale, the Bulldogs took care of the ball against Army. The Elis only turned the ball over 14 times on Saturday.
Yale returns to action Tuesday against the winless University of Hartford Hawks in Hartford, Conn.