MEN’S BASKETBALL: Bulldogs trounce Vassar in season opener
The Yale men’s basketball team began their 2023-24 season with a dominant showing against the Vassar Brewers at home on Monday, winning by a final score of 102–53.
Nick Townsend ’26 may have been a new face in tonight’s starting lineup, but fans are not likely to forget him anytime soon.
The Yale men’s basketball team made quick work of the Division III Vassar Brewers on Monday night in Lee Amphitheater, defeating them 102–53.
“Our guys were obviously excited about being back on the court, I thought they came in and gave us a good effort,” head coach James Jones told the News after the game. “Didn’t make a difference who our opponent was, we just went out, played hard and got contributions from a lot of guys.”
All 16 active players saw action on the court for Yale.
— Yale Men's Basketball (@YaleMBasketball) November 7, 2023
Townsend led Yale in scoring with 13 points to go along with seven rebounds. Guards Bez Mbeng ’25 and John Poulakidas ’25 added 12 points each.
“I always try to bring energy and effort when I’m on the court,” Townsend said. “Try to beat people up on the glass, score down low.”
Townsend started the scoring for the Bulldogs with an and-one layup off of an offensive rebound. Yale extended its lead to 10–0 in the game’s opening two minutes and never looked back.
Mbeng looked to push the ball in transition as Vassar’s shots clanked off the rim. He continually found open teammates and racked up five assists.
Samson Aletan ’27, the highest-rated recruit in Yale’s history, displayed his athleticism early in his debut, dunking the ball on back-to-back possessions in the first half and drawing roars from the crowd. He finished with six points on 3-3 shooting.
The Elis did most of their work on the interior in the first half, but sharpshooters August Mahoney ’24 and Poulakidas got going later on, combining for 5-8 shooting from behind the arc.
Yale held the Brewers to just 28.2 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent from three, though Jones told the News that the team has room to improve defensively.
“I wasn’t happy with our effort tonight,” he said. “We gave up too many open shots to this team, and we’re gonna need to do a better job of staying connected defensively and getting stops.”
Beyond Townsend and Aletan, several new players took on big roles.
Forward Danny Wolf ’26 also made his first career start for the Elis alongside Townsend, Mbeng, Poulakidas and Mahoney. He scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Swing-forward Casey Simmons ’26, a transfer from Northwestern, made his athleticism known in his Yale debut with several powerful drives to the basket and four tough rebounds.
Guards Devon Arlington ’26 and Trevor Mullin ’27 also had strong showings, running the Bulldogs’ offense on a couple possessions and combining for nine points.
“The hardest job I had to do was try to manage minutes for everybody and give all these guys a chance to play,” Jones said, noting that he managed the game in similar fashion to Yale’s exhibition games over the summer.
The Elis have a big test ahead of them this Friday as they face off against No. 11 Gonzaga University, their first Division I opponent on the schedule.
When asked about the transition from playing a Division III opponent to one of the top basketball programs in the nation, Jones kept his answer simple.
“No, it’s not difficult at all,” he said. “Just another game on the schedule for us.” Jokingly, he asked the News if they knew of anybody with a private jet to use for the trip. “It would save us all a bit of sleep.”
The Elis will remain on the West Coast until Sunday for a game against Santa Clara University. Less than a week after returning to New Haven, they’ll hit the road again for three games in New Brunswick, Canada, at the Atlantic Slam tournament.
Friday’s game will tip off at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time at Gonzaga’s Mccarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Washington.