MEN’S BASKETBALL: Yale rides hot shooting night to victory over Princeton
Facing first-place Princeton in a key conference matchup, the Bulldogs put together a dominant second half to climb within one game of the top of the standings.
Juan Borrego, Contributing Photographer
Yale (14–6, 4–3 Ivy) defeated first-place Princeton University (14–6, 5–2 Ivy) in an 87–65 victory on Saturday night to notch their third consecutive win.
After a close first half of play, the Bulldogs ran away with the game thanks to a 52-point offensive eruption in the second half. The dominant performance established the Bulldogs as one of the teams to beat in the conference.
“Offensively, we were on fire,” head coach James Jones told the News. “It was just one of those games. All the things we try to focus on, we executed well tonight.”
Sharpshooting guard duo John Poulakidas ’25 and August Mahoney ’24 shot a combined 8–10 from beyond the arc. As a team, the Bulldogs were 14–21 from deep.
Poulakidas, who led all scorers with 19 points, entered the game shooting just 16 percent from three in conference play.
“I know I had a slow start shooting but the biggest thing for me is trusting myself,” Poulakidas said. “I put in a lot of work in practice, so I just keep my head up and know that if I miss 10 shots, the next 10 are gonna go in.”
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The three-point barrage was the latest in a streak of strong offensive performances from the Elis, who are averaging 83 points over their last four outings. For the first time all season, Yale — typically known as a strong defensive team — has a higher adjusted efficiency rating for their offense than for their defense. Within the Ivy League, Yale’s offense ranks second, behind only Cornell University, while their defense ranks fourth.
The Tigers came into the game sitting two games ahead of the Bulldogs in the standings. The Princeton squad looked up to the task in the first half, consistently finding good shots from three and running the offense through reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Tosan Evbuomwan.
Evbuomwan, who put up 26 points, 11 rebounds and five assists against the Bulldogs last year in John. J Lee Amphitheater, was held to a more modest 15-point, six-rebound performance by forward E.J. Jarvis ’23.
“EJ’s energy was tremendous,” Jones said. “He took that matchup personally. Tosan is a fantastic player, but E.J. stepped up to the challenge, and I thought he did a fine job of limiting him and taking some shots away.”
After the Tigers scored on the first play after the halftime break to take a 38-35 lead, the Blue and White looked to be headed for a tight second-half battle. A Poulakidas three tied the game momentarily, but Princeton responded and pulled ahead with some threes of their own, going up 49–44 at the 16:10 mark.
After the media timeout, Poulakidas drained two three-pointers on back-to-back possessions to put the Bulldogs up 50–49. The Tigers never regained the lead, as the Bulldogs kept the momentum going with a 22–7 run. After the 10-minute stretch, the Elis found themselves up 72–56 with just 6:36 left.
“When John and I are both hitting shots, this is a tough team to guard, so we want to keep doing that,” Mahoney said after the game.
Jones emptied the bench with a couple minutes remaining, as Teo Rice ’25 made his first field goal attempt of conference play. Yale went on to win by a 22-point margin.
Guard Bez Mbeng ’25 continued his strong run of play with an 11-point, eight-assist performance. Forward Matt Knowling ’24 added 12 points along with nine rebounds.
“It got away from us so fast,” Princeton head coach Mitch Henderson said. “[The deficit] was six and then all of a sudden it was 15 and then it was 20. They were great. Everything went in. Even the reserves who hadn’t been playing were making shots.”
The lopsided loss may taste especially bitter for Princeton sports fans who were hoping to avenge themselves after last year’s Ivy League final, in which the Bulldogs took down the first-place Tigers to punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament. Earlier this year, Yale’s football team also upset first-place Princeton in the penultimate game of the season to keep their title hopes alive before claiming the title the following week against Harvard.
With the win, the Elis sit comfortably in third place in the Ivy League standings, one game behind Cornell and Princeton.
Yale will head to Cambridge this Friday for a rivalry matchup against Harvard. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. and the game will be aired on ESPN+.