Courtesy of David Schamis

Yale forward Nick Townsend ’26 was just happy to get the win. 

The men’s basketball team (5–3, 0–0 Ivy) defeated Stony Brook (2–4, 0–0 CAA) 79–71 Wednesday night in John Lee Amphitheater. Townsend scored a career-high 22 points and became the first Yale player since 2016 to record 15 rebounds. But after the game, he deflected attention from his individual showing.

“It was an important team win,” Townsend said, in response to a question about his milestone performance. “We needed to get back in the win column and part of that is rebounding, so we take great pride in that.”

A 13-point favorite entering the game, the Bulldogs got off to a slow start, trailing 29–28 after 15 minutes of play. Townsend made two free throws to put Yale ahead with 4:21 remaining in the first half, and they held onto the lead for the rest of the game. 

Point guard Bez Mbeng ’25, playing through a groin injury, tallied 18 points, and forward Danny Wolf ’26 tallied 11 points to accompany nine rebounds — five on offense — and four assists.

Yale’s 18 offensive rebounds were a welcome sight for home fans following Sunday’s 76–72 loss to Rhode Island, in which the Bulldogs got outrebounded by a margin of 40–26.

“I was really happy with our rebounding, that made me feel good about who we are,” Head Coach James Jones told the News.

Still, Stony Brook’s 71 points marked the sixth time in seven Division I games that the Bulldogs have allowed over 70 points to an opponent, something they did just twice in last year’s 13-game non-conference schedule.

Forward Casey Simmons ’25 extended the lead to 59–49 at the 10:46 mark of the second half, but the Seawolves refused to let them pull away, knocking down multiple threes to keep the game within single digits.

The Elis kept them at a safe distance, though, and two Mbeng free throws with a minute remaining sealed the win.

Improvement on the boards

After Townsend grabbed another offensive rebound late in the second half, Stony Brook Coach Geno Ford leaned over to his assistant and called Yale the “most illegal offensive rebounding team in the world.”

But Jones praised Townsend for his physicality, calling him a “workhorse.”

“I think we lost the Rhode Island game because we got out-toughed,” Jones said. “We did not get out-toughed tonight, and Nick was a big part of that.”

Jones, whose motto is ‘defend, rebound, share,’ said his team needed to show “more urgency” on the offensive glass following Sunday’s loss. The Elis more than doubled their season’s offensive rebounding average of 7.7, which ranked 334th in the nation coming into last night’s game.

Progress on defense

Despite allowing the Seawolves slightly more points than their season average of 69.2, the Bulldogs forced 15 turnovers and made life difficult for opposing players inside the paint. Stony Brook did much of their damage from the three-point line, hitting 10 of 22 shots from beyond the arc.

Yale’s perimeter defense has been a weakness this year, allowing opponents to shoot 36.7 percent — down from 33.8 percent last year — from the three-point line heading into Wednesday, ranking 289th in the country.

Coach Jones expressed confidence that this year’s defense would return to last season’s elite level.

“We should be as good as we were last year, just not yet,” he said. “We have some more work to do than I thought we would, but I feel really good about this team and our chance to be special.”

Jones also experimented with some new looks on the court, playing first-year center Samson Aletan ’27 alongside the seven-foot Wolf at times throughout the game.

Aletan, an athletic, defensive-minded player, is Yale’s highest-rated recruit ever.

“It depends on the matchups we’re playing,” Jones said on whether Wolf and Aletan will appear on the court together moving forward. “But I think Samson is a tremendous talent and he needs opportunities on the floor.”

Around the league

Princeton (7–0, 0–0 Ivy), Harvard (6–2, 0–0 Ivy) and Cornell (6–1, 0–0 Ivy) all won on Wednesday night, each building on impressive seasons thus far.

All three teams have risen in’s Division I rankings since the start of the season. Princeton, which made national headlines at the end of last season with a Cinderella run to the Sweet 16, was ranked 51st as of Wednesday night despite starting out in the 123rd spot. Harvard has risen close to 100 spots as of last night as well, starting at 227 and now sitting at 139. Cornell, beginning at 131, is at 111.

Yale, comparatively, began the season ranked 71st nationally, but now sits in the 95th spot. But for Jones, rankings mean nothing. 

“I’m focused on us,” he said bluntly. 

The Bulldogs head back on the road this weekend, tipping off against Vermont at 7 p.m.

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.