MEN’S BASKETBALL: Yale falls at Seton Hall, 80–44, following Friday win over UMass
The Bulldogs struggled on offense Sunday at Seton Hall, shooting under 25 percent from the field and converting only four of their 30 shot attempts from three-point range.
William McCormack, Contributing Photographer
NEWARK, NJ. — After pounding the University of Massachusetts (1–1, 0–0 Atlantic 10) at home late Friday night behind 91 points of offense, the Bulldogs finished their Sunday afternoon contest at Seton Hall with less than half as many: 44 points.
Tipping off in Newark, New Jersey just about 36 hours after concluding a dominant showing against the Minutemen, Yale (2–1, 0–0 Ivy) dropped a lopsided game to Seton Hall (2–0, 0–0 Big East), 80–44. The Elis, who showed one short burst of life in the first half to cut the deficit to four, struggled to find the bottom of the net — the team made 15 of 62 shots from the field, a 24.2 percent mark that represents the program’s poorest shooting performance in at least a decade.
“It was a frustrating game all around,” head coach James Jones said, standing outside of Yale’s visitor’s locker room postgame at the Prudential Center. “I chalk it up a lot to Seton Hall’s gameplan and the way they defended us … I can’t remember one good offensive set that we ran the entire game, and that’s on me as a coach and trying to get our guys to do what’s necessary.”
Captain and guard Jalen Gabbidon ’22 paced the Elis with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds, both of which marked career bests.
Even before the opening tip, the announcement of each side’s starting lineups made it clear that Yale would need to overcome a significant height and length mismatch if it hoped to upset the Pirates. Aside from 6-foot-2-inch guard Jamir Harris, all of the four other Seton Hall starters stood at least 6 feet, 6 inches, while Yale’s only starter above 6 feet, 6 inches was forward Isaiah Kelly ’23, who is 6 feet, 7 inches.
Under the rim, 7-foot-2-inch Seton Hall center Ike Obiagu towered over Kelly and the Yale post players who reinforced him off the bench: 6-foot-8-inch forwards Yussif Basa-Ama ’24 and Jack Molloy ’25. Seton Hall outscored Yale in the paint, 38–18.
Jones said he thought Seton Hall’s length around the basket created difficulties for the Bulldogs. Standing and surveying the action at the opposite end of the scorer’s table, Seton Hall head coach Kevn Willard made the same observation and exploited it to the Pirates’ advantage.
“A big difference is our big guys,” Willard told the media postgame. “Kelly and Gabbidon — who I love, I think Gabbidon’s a phenomenal player — I looked at them at the nine-minute mark, and they were shot … Unfortunately for Yale, our size really wore them down.”
Faced with Seton Hall’s height under the rim, Yale attempted 30 three-pointers, its most against a non-conference opponent since facing LSU in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs made only two of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half and two of 12 attempts in the second.
Seton Hall jumped to an early 17–4 lead, but Yale pushed back after the under-12 media timeout in the first half. With 11:33 to go, guard Azar Swain ’22 stole a pass from Pirates guard — and Harvard alumnus — Bryce Aiken, leading to a fast-break dunk for Gabbidon. The captain scored Yale’s next four points before a three-pointer from Molloy cut the Pirates’ lead to four, 19–15, causing Willard to call a timeout with about nine minutes left in the half.
The Pirates surged back, responding with a 14-point run Yale never overcame. A tip-in at the buzzer from guard Myles Cale put Seton Hall up 45–22 at the half.
“We’re used to playing back-to-back games,” Gabbidon told the News after the loss. “If you have a rough game on a Friday, all you can do is learn. This is the best learning experience we possibly could have had. It’s easy to get high hopes and high expectations, get a little cocky after a game like Friday against UMass, but this is a good, humbling experience and so we know what we need to get better on going forward.”
The Bulldogs struggled to close the deficit into the second. Guard Matthue Cotton ’23 converted a three-pointer a minute in the half into the frame, but the Elis’ shooting woes otherwise continued. Shooting free throws in front of an active Seton Hall student section that had filed into the arena on Sunday morning more than 40 minutes before tipoff seemed to add to the Bulldogs’ scoring difficulties. They went eight-for-16 from the free throw line in the second.
Jones substituted first-year forward Luke Kolaja ’25, who is from Montclair, NJ, into the game with 2:25 to play. He knocked down a three-pointer for his first career points in a last-minute bright spot for the Bulldogs, but Seton Hall closed out its win half a minute later.
Against UMass on Friday night in New Haven, the game script played out very differently for Yale. The Elis started off slow on their first few possessions, committing consecutive turnovers and falling to a 7–0 deficit three minutes in. A sizable contingent of Minutemen fans traveled down for the contest, letting loose a round of “Let’s go UMass!” chants before the game. After UMass’s opening run, however, Swain soon quieted the visitors, converting a four-point play to put Yale on the board and continuing on to score 12 points within the game’s first nine minutes.
Cotton found his shooting groove too, helping the Bulldogs establish a lead they would never give up. The junior lefty scored a career-high and game-high 23 points.
Starting point guard Eze Dike ’22 left the game against Massachusetts with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, motioning to Jones by crossing his arms in an X and shaking his head. He left the floor with Yale trainer Rebecca Davis and re-emerged with under five minutes left in the first half, trading his white game uniform for a Yale sweat suit. After the game, Jones said he had turned his ankle, but by Sunday against Seton Hall, Dike appeared healthy and had returned to the starting lineup, playing 23 minutes.
Guard August Mahoney ’24 started the second half against UMass in his place, playing a career-high 27 minutes and pulling down a team-high 7 rebounds alongside Cotton.
“[I was] just staying ready, trusting my work, and trusting my coaching staff and my teammates alongside me knowing they’ll have my back …,” Mahoney said Friday night after the win over UMass. “We talked about it going out, the first four minutes are going to be important trying to put them away, and I think we did a good job with that.”
The forward trio of Kelly, Molloy and Basa-Ama all encountered foul trouble in the half, but Yale maintained its lead, firing up the crowd with exciting and-ones from Gabbidon and guard Michael Feinberg ’23. The Bulldogs finished the night with 54.2 percent shooting from the field.
8,265 fans attended Yale’s Sunday noon contest against Seton Hall at the Prudential Center, which is also home to the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.