The Bulldogs played two strong halves this weekend, but they led to two separate wins. Yale jumped on Vermont early in the first half on Saturday to clinch an early lead, but stormed back in the second half to beat Sacred Heart on Monday.
Head coach James Jones said that Yale must defend its home court. The Bulldogs did just that on Saturday against the University of Vermont.
Yale pulled ahead 4–2 just two and a half minutes into the first half and led the rest of the way en route to a 68–52 victory over the Catamounts. Jones stated that the Elis’ defense was key to securing the win.
“Today we didn’t win the game because of shooting the basketball,” Jones said on Saturday. “We won this game because we defended … In the second half … we turned [the ball] over a few times and we didn’t score … but because we got some stops on the defensive end it helped us to continue to lead.”
The Bulldogs suffocated the Catamounts on defense, holding Vermont to just 35 percent shooting from the floor. Yale’s success was not limited to one side of the floor, however, as the Elis also took it to Vermont offensively. Center Greg Mangano ’12 scored a game-high 22 points and added 15 rebounds — four offensive — to record his third double-double of the season. The Bulldogs’ other post player, Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14, also dominated inside, contributing 14 points. Mangano and Jones said that Vermont’s decision to play one-on-one defense in the post allowed Yale’s post players to dominate the game.
“When we … have a defense that’s playing one-on-one in the post, we are going to look to score because we are pretty talented there,” Mangano said.
In a moment of levity, Jones qualified Mangano’s comments, adding, “Greg looks to score in his sleep. He’ll snore and he’ll think about shooting the basketball.”
The Bulldogs needed Mangano to score in the second half of the game at Sacred Heart University on Monday, as Yale trailed 35–44 at halftime.
Captain Reggie Willhite ’12 was the player to lead Yale’s second-half surge, scoring seven of his 17 second-half points and distributing two assists during a 16–2 run out of the break.
“Offensively, Reggie put us on his back,” Mike Grace ’13 said. “[In the second half] we brought the intensity we had been lacking.”
Yale took a 51–46 lead, but the Pioneers kept battling and regained a 71–70 advantage with 1:57 remaining. The Bulldogs’ defense shut Sacred Heart out for the remainder of the game, and Mangano hit two free throws to reclaim a 72–71 lead. Mangano scored seven straight Yale points before Grace hit a free-throw to cap of the Elis’ 73–71 win with nine seconds left.
The Bulldogs were clutch from the line, hitting 29 of 37, including three of four in the last minute and a half.
After the close game on Monday, the team had a light practice on Tuesday where they watched film to prepare for Wednesday’s home game against Bryant.
“We’re not taking [Bryant] lightly,” Grace said. “The key is playing with the same intensity we had in the second half [on Monday].”
Tip-off will be at 7 p.m. at the Lee Amphitheater.