One night after forward Brandon Sherrod ’16 set an NCAA record for most consecutive field goals made, the Yale men’s basketball team broke another record — perhaps a more significant one. With an 83–52 win over visiting Cornell, the Bulldogs improved to 6–0 in the Ivy League for the first time in program history.
Yale (15–5, 6–0 Ivy) also secured its tenth consecutive win overall in the process, breaking a tie with the 1961–62 squad that won nine straight games before entering the NCAA Tournament — the last Bulldog team to participate in March Madness.
“I felt like we were the better team in the games that we played [during the winning streak],” Yale head coach James Jones said. “Playing the last four games at home were very important to us … We expect to win. We have expectation on winning next week as well so if [we] play really hard and improve upon our effort tonight, we should be in good shape.”
Cornell (9–10, 2–3) entered the game one night removed from a six-point defeat at Brown, a game in which the Big Red shot under 40 percent from the field. Yale, meanwhile, dealt Ancient Eight foe Columbia its first loss of the season behind a 61.5 percent shooting clip.
Initially, Saturday night’s matchup played out much as those two shooting numbers would suggest. In the game’s first 15 minutes, the Bulldogs made 16 of their first 24 shots from the field and raced out to a 41–18 lead. Over that same stretch, Cornell made just six of its 24 attempts.
Following a block on the defensive end on a David Onuorah dunk attempt, guard Khaliq Ghani ’16 knocked down his second three pointer of the half to give the Bulldogs a 44-18 lead with 3:35 remaining in the first half. Ghani was one of five players to come off the bench in the first half. Overall, the bench tallied 14 first-half points, almost five times as many as the bench’s total output against Columbia on Friday night.
Of the starters, forward Justin Sears ’16 overcame a variety of double- and triple-teams to notch 10 first-half points. Captain and guard Jack Montague ’16 matched that total, while Sherrod and Mason had eight apiece.
Entering the locker room, the Elis had doubled the Big Red, 52–26.
In the second half, Yale continued its hot shooting, especially from beyond the arc. Yale sunk six of its 10 three-point attempts in the period, including two from Montague. Overall, the senior made four of his eight treys en route to a team-high 16 points.
“Following a 27 point performance by Justin [Sears] and a 25 point performance by Brandon [Sherrod], they packed it in quite a bit,” Montague said. “I think it was open for all of us. We hit 12 threes and it just seemed like the arc was wide open tonight.”
The Bulldogs controlled the glass throughout the contest, outrebounding the Big Red 56–22, while also scoring 32 points in the paint, as compared to 19 from Cornell.
With just under seven minutes to play, Jones elected to rest his starters. A rotation of Downey, forwards Eric Anderson ’18, Blake Reynolds ’19 and Thomas Ryan, and guards Alex Copeland ’19 and Trey Phills ’19 preserved the comfortable lead.
The Elis were able to neutralize Cornell’s scoring attack, led by guards Robert Hatter and Matt Morgan. Hatter entered the game averaging 19.8 points per game, best in the league, while his teammate — the reigning co-Ivy League Player of the Week with Sherrod — is second with 18.5, including an astonishing 30.0 points per game in conference play.
Hatter, who was kept out of the first four games of conference play by an injured ankle, struggled to find the basket, shooting 1–9 from the field en route to a 2-point performance.
Though Morgan had another impressive showing, scoring just under half of Cornell’s points, his 20 points were not enough to keep Cornell in it against a bigger, more efficient Yale attack. The freshman standout went 7–16 from the field and 5–10 from beyond the arc.
The Bulldogs travel to Dartmouth next Friday to face the Big Green, a team has lost four in a row in league play and now sits at 1–5 in the conference.