In the opening contest of Yale’s first Ivy League weekend series, the Bulldogs benefitted from a significant size advantage down low to cruise to a 81–58 victory over Penn.
The Elis (12–5, 3–0 Ivy) never trailed in a dominating performance to move to 7–0 at home and win their seventh consecutive game overall. They have now also defeated the Quakers (6–10, 0–2) seven times in a row.
“Defensively, I thought we did a really good job the entire game,” head coach James Jones said. “Offensively, especially in the second half, we basically scored every time we went down the floor.”
Penn’s Darien Henry-Nelson, who, according to Penn head coach Steve Donahue, sprained his ankle last Monday, was sent to the bench just 93 seconds into the game after receiving a flagrant foul. The six-foot-eleven, 265-pound senior re-entered the game soon after, but only for a moment as he finished with just three minutes played. Yale outscored the Quakers 32–24 in the paint during Henry-Nelson’s absence, including 19 points from forward Brandon Sherrod ’16.
Guards Makai Mason ’18 and Nick Victor ’16 each began the first period by connecting from long range. Victor added three highlight reel-worthy blocks to a first half in which Penn shot 12–30 from the field.
Sherrod’s 7–7 shooting night from the field extended his streak of consecutive made field goals to 17, a streak that dates back 95 minutes to Yale’s Jan. 16 matchup against Brown.
“They were point blank,” Sherrod said of his shots Friday evening. “You’ve got to make those. They’re bunnies.”
Though the Bulldogs jumped out to a 10-point lead with 7:09 remaining in the first half, their opponents methodically cut into the margin until Yale led by just two points with 2:38 remaining until halftime. The Quakers relied on three-point shooting to keep the contest close, particularly from guard Sam Jones, who buried three treys in the opening period.
Much like the game against Brown, however, Yale reigned the game back in behind a collective effort. The Bulldogs closed the half on a 10–2 run buoyed by five points from forward Justin Sears ’16 and two smooth mid-range jumpers from Montague, and held a 41–31 lead at halftime.
After the halftime break, all participants seemed to return to the floor with more energy, the referees included. The teams combined for 50 fouls in the game, including 30 in the second half.
Early on in the half, Victor flew into the lane for a defensive rebound and came down on Penn’s Mike Auger. Victor’s elbow caught Auger in the face, and the Quaker, who was called for a foul on the play, was forced to exit the game with a bloody nose. Auger did not return and after the game, Donahue said that it was “probably broken.”
Soon afterwards, Sears picked up his third foul and went to the bench. The Plainfield, New Jersey native scored 16 points in the game, including shooting 6-8 from the free throw line, despite the foul trouble.
In his absence, the bench took command of the game. In the ensuing seven minutes, the duo of guard Anthony Dallier ’17 and forward Sam Downey ’17 combined for eight quick points and extended the lead to 21 by the midpoint of the second stanza. Dallier finished 3–3 from the field for six points while Downey was 3–4 for seven points off the bench, after a first half in which the Yale reserves did not score a single point.
Yale retained a double-digit lead for the remainder of the night. With 3:20 remaining in the game, Jones emptied his bench while the starting five exited to a standing ovation from the Yale fans on hand at the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
By the time the final buzzer sounded, the Bulldogs had shot a collective 30–50 from the field, including a stellar 16–24 mark in the second half.
The Bulldogs will attempt to complete a weekend sweep on Saturday, as they take on Princeton at 7 p.m. The Tigers enter play 2–0 in the Ivy League.