Courtesy of Princeton Athletics

On a frigid, snowy Saturday evening, the Ivy League’s top two men’s basketball teams met inside Princeton’s vast Jadwin Gymnasium, where the Tigers had won all 11 of its home games this season entering the weekend.

Insulated from the cold, Yale (10–9, 4–1 Ivy) sizzled with a 13–0 run to take the lead early in the game and built a commanding 17-point advantage at halftime. In the final minutes of the game, the Bulldogs withstood a mad succession of four 3-pointers in 100 seconds from Princeton (15–4, 5–1) guard Jaelin Llewellyn to secure an 80–74 win and hand the Tigers their first Ivy League loss. If you enjoy sports and you like to play online check this site now to find a wide variety of games.

With the road victory, which ratings site KenPom pegged as the Bulldogs’ most difficult regular-season league game, the Bulldogs also ended Princeton’s 10-game win streak, adding a loss to its record for the first time since Hofstra (13–8, 5–3 CAA) beat the Tigers on Dec. 1. The 10-game streak was the third longest active streak in NCAA Division I men’s basketball.

The Tigers shot three-for-15 from beyond the arc in the first half despite entering the game tied for fifth in the nation averaging 10.7 made 3-pointers per game. 

“I think that we really wanted to pressure them and force them into shooting contested threes as opposed to uncontested threes,” Yale head coach James Jones said in a postgame phone interview. “I thought we did a good job in the second half [too], and Llewellyn made four very difficult shots that were contested late in the game. You gotta give the kid credit.”

A successful jumper from starting forward Matt Knowling ’24 — who led five Yale players who scored in double figures with a team-high 17 points — put the Elis up 70–58 with just 3:21 to play. Llewellyn, a senior from Ontario who leads the Tigers with 15.9 points per game, responded by sinking 3-pointers on four consecutive possessions. His fourth straight make from deep cut Yale’s lead to four, 74–70, with just 1:29 remaining. Llewellyn finished the night with a game-high 23 points.

A full-court Princeton pressure created some unease for the Bulldogs, but good free-throw shooting down the stretch and a soaring fadeaway shot from Yale’s star guard Azar Swain ’22 with 39 seconds to play sealed the victory. Yale made six of its seven free-throw attempts in the final 2:18, highlighted by perfect trips to the stripe from forward Isaiah Kelly ’23 and first-year guard Bez Mbeng ’25.

Forward Isaiah Kelly ’23, celebrating above, was in foul trouble on Saturday but converted both of his free-throw attempts with nine seconds to play. (Courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

“I was able to just wedge in [and] get to a space where I was comfortable,” Swain told ESPN+ color commentator Noah Savage in a postgame interview on the court. “That’s a shot that I work on a lot, so that’s a comfortable shot, and I’m just glad it fell and we got the win.”

Swain finished with 14 points and six rebounds despite a subpar shooting night — he was six-of-16 from the field. Overall, however, the Bulldogs put forth one of their best shooting performances of the season. Their 46.2 percent clip from 3-point range was their second-best of the season after last Tuesday’s win over Columbia, while their field goal percentage (51.9) ranked as the team’s fourth highest this season.

Yale guards Jalen Gabbidon ’22 and Matthue Cotton ’23 joined Knowling, Swain and Mbeng with double-figure scoring games.

KenPom gave Princeton a 64 percent chance to win, making the game Yale’s most difficult of regular-season conference play. Swain said the team was “very critical” in its approach to the contest.

“We know this was a big game [where] we needed to take care of business,” Swain said.

Yale and Princeton entered the game at the top of the Ivy League standings, with the Tigers undefeated and Yale in second place at 3–1. Princeton and Yale also led the league on KenPom — Princeton at 139th place and Yale at 149th out of 358 DI men’s teams. As of Sunday evening, the order had flipped, though the Tigers’ better winning percentage means they maintain a slim lead in the Ancient Eight standings. (The Tigers remain about twenty spots ahead of the Elis in the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET, rankings.) Princeton visits New Haven on Feb. 19, and the two squads could very well meet for a third time at Ivy Madness, the conference’s postseason basketball tournament, in Boston this March.

Yale held the Tigers to an eight-of-26 mark from the field in the first half, allowing it to contain Princeton as the Elis built a lead. The Tigers also turned the ball over six times in the game’s first eight minutes.

“We were able to put pressure on their shooters, making sure that every shot they took was contested,” Cotton told the News.

Cotton played 24 minutes off the bench and sank four 3-pointers in the first half alone. He was shooting 30.6 percent from deep this season before Saturday, a notch below his 35.2 percent mark during the 2019–20 season, but drilled his fourth 3-pointer in the final minute of the half. With seconds left in the frame, Mbeng raced down the court and scored a layup that rolled around the rim at the buzzer. It fell through the net, putting Yale up 43–26 at the break and giving a fired-up Mbeng a head start off the floor into the visitors’ locker room.

Yale forward EJ Jarvis ’23 attempts to block a shot at the rim from Princeton guard Max Johns on Saturday. (Courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

Mbeng and Knowling, Yale’s two rookie starters, both played big roles on Saturday. Mbeng, who grabbed a game- and career-high 10 rebounds at point guard, played a career-high 32 minutes. In addition to pacing the Elis with 17 points, Knowling, who shot eight-of-nine from the floor, led the team with three assists as well.

“Having Matt Knowling [as] someone who can operate at the basket [has] been great for us,” Jones said. “We had been missing that post-up game all season long, so with Matt Knowling and with EJ [Jarvis ’23], we have that part of our team back.”

Yale, which has now beat Princeton in seven consecutive games after losing five straight from 2016 to 2018, hosts Dartmouth (5–12, 2–4) and Harvard (10–7, 2–3) next weekend.

William McCormack covered Yale men's basketball from 2018 to 2022. He served as Sports Editor and Digital Editor for the Managing Board of 2022 and also reported on the athletic administration as a staff reporter. Originally from Boston, he was in Timothy Dwight College.