MEN’S BASKETBALL: Bulldogs set for Vermont, Fort Myers Tip-Off after Swain scores 1,000th in win at Siena
Following an 82–54 win at Siena on Tuesday night, Yale visits perennial opponent Vermont on Friday before playing two games in the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off over Thanksgiving break.
William McCormack, Contributing Photographer
The Yale men’s basketball team cruised past Siena (0–3, 0–0 MAAC) in Albany, NY on Tuesday night, scoring nearly 50 points in the second half en route to an 84–52 win.
Guard Azar Swain ’22 led all players with 23 points and reached a career milestone of 1,000 points at Yale when he drained a pullup three-pointer in the second half. Swain and the Bulldogs (3–1, 0–0 Ivy) return north Friday afternoon for a game at Vermont (2–1, 0–0 America East), a fixture on the Elis’ schedule in every season they have competed in since the 2007–2008 campaign. Over Thanksgiving break, the team will then travel to Florida to participate in the “Palms Division” of the Rocket Mortgage Fort Myers Tip-Off tournament with a Tuesday game against Southern Utah (1–3, 0–0 Big Sky) and a Wednesday contest with either Milwaukee (1–2, 0–0 Horizon) or Bowling Green (1–2, 0–0 MAC).
Swain said crossing the 1,000-point mark on Tuesday night was emotional.
“[It] means everything to me truthfully,” Swain told the News. “It’s the truest result of work, patience, time and perseverance. And it’s so special to me because of the journey. … It really took a lot to get to this point, so I’m just thankful.”
The senior guard from Brockton, Mass. became the 31st Yale men’s basketball player to score 1,000 points. Before Swain, forward Paul Atkinson ’21 was the most recent to join the club, achieving the milestone at Columbia in February 2020. Swain’s career total at Yale, however, pales in comparison to his scoring as a high schooler. He became the first player at The Rivers School to score 2,000 points and graduated with a grand total of 2,185.
Guard and captain Jalen Gabbidon ’22 added 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists at Siena, while guards Matthue Cotton ’23 and August Mahoney ’24 scored eight and seven, respectively. Mahoney, who is from Saratoga Springs, NY and attended Albany Academy, made his first career start in place of point guard Eze Dike ’22, who rolled his ankle last week and sat out Tuesday night with an injury.
“You’re going to play a lot of games through the course of a year, and sometimes you’re gonna have some bad nights, and we had a really bad night against Seton Hall, and it was important that we came and bounced back and played better today,” Yale head coach James Jones told play-by-play announcer Robert Lee on the ESPN3 broadcast immediately after the win. “Early on in the game, I thought we still had some of the same mistakes we were making against Seton Hall, turning the ball over against pressure. I think that we got a lot better in the second half — we only turned it over one time — and that was a huge difference for us.”
Swain now heads into Yale’s Thanksgiving break slate just 23 three-point makes away from surpassing the Bulldogs’ career three-pointers record held by Ed Petersen ’92.
Vermont poses the Bulldogs’ first challenge of the break in a match that features two of New England’s strongest mid-major programs. Yale ranks No. 20 in the latest CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 poll, while the Catamounts sit at No. 22. The University of Vermont opened its season with a 14-point win over Northern Iowa before falling at Maryland on Saturday. On Tuesday, UVM handled NCAA Division III opponent Worcester Polytechnic, which was facing its first DI opponent in 11 years.
When Yale last visited Patrick Gym to face the Catamounts in November 2018, the Bulldogs fell, 79–70. UVM alum Anthony Lamb, who won the NBA G League’s Most Improved Player Award last year with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, frustrated the Elis with 34 points. When UVM next played at Yale in early December 2019, the Bulldogs contained him to 18 points on eight-of-23 shooting and beat Vermont, 65—52. Atkinson led all scorers with 23 points.
Lamb has graduated, but Vermont remains a strong program under head coach John Becker. As of Thursday evening, the Catamounts rank 95th out of all 358 DI men’s basketball programs in the 2022 Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings (KenPom). Yale ranks no. 140.
“I think the team is looking forward to the game this Friday and going into the break,” forward Isaiah Kelly ’23 told the News Wednesday night. “We have a few kinks to work out, but we had a good practice [Wednesday]. … If we bring the same energy [Thursday] to practice and carry that into the upcoming games, I think we will excel.”
Next week, Yale heads to Fort Myers for a multi-team event before Thanksgiving. Its Tuesday opponent, Southern Utah, won the Big Sky’s regular-season championship last year and was picked to finish first in this winter’s preseason coaches and media polls.
Milwaukee, which is playing on the other side of the Palms Division bracket, will play Yale Wednesday if both teams either win or lose on Tuesday. The Panthers feature projected 2022 NBA Draft lottery pick Patrick Baldwin Jr., a 6-foot-9 freshman guard averaging 17.7 points a game. If not Milwaukee, Yale will meet Bowling Green on Wednesday. The Falcons rank No. 160 on KenPom as of Thursday evening.
Yale is 13–14 against Vermont in the two schools’ all-time series.