Yale Athletics

It was a “battle of the Bulldogs” Tuesday night at Butler University’s Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Yale (8–2, 0–0 Ivy) came in looking to test their mettle against the Bulldogs of Butler University (7–3, 0–0 Big East), but came up short, losing 71–61.

The Elis, coming off of two comfortable wins, looked shaky to start the game against just their second high-major opponent all season. On the opening tip, a defensive miscommunication led to an easy layup for center Manny Bates, putting Butler up 2–0 in the first five seconds.

Forward EJ Jarvis ’23 and guard August Mahoney ’24 got Yale on the board with a dunk and then a three to make it 6–5 at the 16:29 mark, but Butler pulled away after that, going on a 16–2 run to put the Bulldogs down 22–7 with 10:00 to go in the first half. 

Jarvis and Mahoney continued to be a driving force on the team, with Jarvis finishing with 14 points on 6–12 from the field, and Mahoney adding 9 points on 3–5 from three.

The Blue and White cut the deficit to 37–28 going into the half, which seemed like a fortunate position to be in given the nine first-half turnovers they committed.

“Our first 10 minutes could’ve been better,” Jarvis told the News. “They made some adjustments in the first timeout and went on a big run. We played much better in the second half. We kept fighting and played them even, but we’ve got to start as strong as we finish to win big games like these.”

The second half was a much closer contest, as Yale threatened to come back on multiple occasions while refusing to let Butler pull away.

Yale managed to cut the lead down to five on multiple occasions, but Butler continually responded with a bucket of their own.

In particular, the 6’11” Bates seemed to be an automatic source of offense for Butler as he punished Yale’s small-ball lineup with a deep bag of tricks in the low post. He finished with 22 points on 9–15 shooting from the field.

Jarvis, who was tasked with guarding Bates for most of the night, gave a candid assessment of his defensive performance after the game.

“Any time a guy plays 40 minutes a night, you know there’s a pretty good reason for it, but I think I did a good job for most of the game,” Jarvis said. “The ref was saying I had to keep my hands off so it made it a lot harder to guard. He made some tough shots and got some easy ones too, and at the end of the day you just have to live with it and come back better next time.”

With 4:13 remaining in the game and the Blue and White down by 12, forward Matt Knowling ’24 and guard Bez Mbeng ’25 made consecutive baskets to start a final push, but Butler’s Simas Lukosius silenced any chance of a comeback with back-to-back threes, bringing his team to a comfortable 71–61 win.

Knowling, who leads Yale in scoring with 16.1 points per game on the season, scored just six points on 3–10 shooting.

“I was not frustrated with the looks we were getting,” Knowling said. “I thought we all had some good looks that didn’t fall. I think getting to the free throw line would help us a lot. I think we only shot five free throws compared to their 20, so getting to the line would help slow the game down and help us get a bit of a rhythm.”

The Elis had attempted just one free throw all game until the final minute, while Butler had 20 attempts from the line. In their matchup at the University of Colorado earlier this season, Yale shot just one free throw all game to Colorado’s 16. Head coach James Jones kept his thoughts brief when asked about his team’s free throw attempts this time around. 

“Not much to say, felt we should have gotten to the line more,” he told the News.

Despite the 10-point loss, Butler head coach Thad Matta had praise for his fellow Bulldog team after the game.

“I will say this: we beat a really really good basketball team tonight,” Matta said. “I kept telling these guys in the second half, [Yale] won’t go away, they just keep on running their stuff, but I thought we did a really good job of guarding all their actions.”

Matta also emphasized the importance of keeping Knowling to just six points, calling him a “nightmare to prepare for.” Yale’s second-leading scorer, guard John Poulakidas ’25, was also held to just five points on a difficult 1–9 shooting night.

Yale will hope to build off of the promising second half as they prepare for the upcoming matchup away against No. 16 Kentucky, by far their most difficult matchup of the season.

“A road game at Rupp [Arena] is going to be a tough environment to play in,” Jarvis said. “We’re aware of the challenge we’re going to face but prepared for it. We’re going into the game locked in and ready to compete. We deserve to be on a Power 5 court, and we’re not scared.”

Yale’s game at Kentucky will tip off at 1 p.m. Saturday and will air on the SEC Network, with the option to stream on the ESPN app.


Ben Raab covers faculty and academics at Yale and writes about the Yale men's basketball team. Originally from New York City, Ben is a sophomore in Pierson college pursuing a double major in history and political science.