MEN’S BASKETBALL: Yale notches key victory over Penn
Following a disappointing start to their Ivy League season, the Yale men’s basketball team picked up a key victory at home against Penn in front of a large crowd to rise to third in the conference standings.
Courtesy of David Schamis
It was “White Out” night Saturday in Payne Whitney Gymnasium, as students set down the books and filled the bleachers of the John Lee Amphitheater to cheer on the Bulldogs.
Yale (12–6, 3–3 Ivy) overcame a strong effort from the University of Pennsylvania Quakers (9–11, 2–4 Ivy) en route to a 60–53 victory in a back-and-forth matchup Saturday night in the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
The Quakers, tabbed as the conference favorites in the Ivy League preseason poll, held the Bulldogs at bay in the first half, going up 19–10 at the 12-minute mark and not surrendering their lead until halftime.
The Blue and White answered the bell in the second half, limiting Penn to just 25 points and winning by a comfortable seven-point margin.
“In the first half we were out of sync offensively,” head coach James Jones told the News. “We didn’t share the ball the way we’re capable of but were fortunate to have some sharpshooting keep us in the game. In the second half, we did a better job of driving and getting the ball to the rim.”
Eli guard tandem August Mahoney ’24 and Bez Mbeng ’25 scored 17 and 14 points respectively, while forward EJ Jarvis ’23 contributed 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Mbeng, Yale’s star perimeter defender, had his hands full guarding Penn standout Jordan Dingle for much of the night. Dingle, the nation’s third-leading scorer, was a one-man show for the Quakers, finishing with 27 points and seven rebounds.
“I love those matchups,” Mbeng said after the game. “I love guarding the best player on the other team and I take pride in that. But he’s a great player and hit some tough shots even when I was there contesting him. You just gotta tip your hat to him.”
Dingle didn’t attempt a shot through the first seven minutes of the game, but found his groove midway through the half, scoring 12 straight points and propelling Penn to a 38–35 halftime lead. Dingle started to heat up when Mbeng headed to the bench for a quick rest, and his scoring pace slowed when Mbeng returned.
Mbeng and Mahoney hit back-to-back threes to open the second half, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the night.
Bez gets us off to a strong start in the second half.
— Yale Men’s Basketball (@YaleMBasketball) January 22, 2023
Mahoney’s biggest contribution, however, came later in the game, protecting the Blue and White from a Quaker comeback in the final two minutes. With Yale clinging to a 62–60 lead, the Saratoga Springs native converted an and-1 and made a layup on consecutive possessions. Then, Mahoney iced the game with two clutch free throws with 27 seconds remaining.
Mahoney, no stranger to the second-half spotlight, hit a game-tying three with 1:55 remaining in last Sunday’s victory over Brown.
The game also set the new season-high for fan attendance, drawing a crowd of 1,922.
“The atmosphere of all the students being back made it fun,” said Jarvis.
Jarvis received a particularly loud reaction from the stands after each of his two three-pointers.
Yale’s three big men, Jarvis, Isaiah Kelly ’23 and Danny Wolf ’26 all hit at least one triple.
Wolf, a 7-foot first year with a soft touch from beyond the arc, was a welcome addition to the rotation, notching five points in just five minutes of action.
“Danny’s played really well in practice, he’s played really hard,” Jones said. “He was deserving of an opportunity and he got it.”
With the win, the Bulldogs sit at .500 in conference play for the first time this season and slot into a more comfortable third place position in the Ivy League standings. Penn, on the other hand, fell to 2-4 with the loss and now find themselves in seventh place.
Yale will have another opportunity to climb the standings at home this Saturday, but are in for a battle against the first place Princeton Tigers. The game will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.