Yale Daily News
March 4, 2011
After a thrilling weekend that included an emotional Senior Night victory over Harvard, 70–69, the men’s basketball team’s season will come to an end this Saturday in upstate New York.
The Bulldogs (14–12, 7–5 Ivy) will travel to the Big Apple for a Friday night matchup with the Columbia Lions (14–12, 5–7) before meeting the Cornell Big Red (8–18, 4–8) Saturday night in Ithaca. The Bulldogs will look to build off of the big Senior Night win over the Crimson last Saturday.
Last weekend, the Bulldogs hosted the Dartmouth Big Green and the Harvard Crimson for the last pair of games at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. Friday night, the Bulldogs and Big Green finished regulation tied at 65. In the overtime period, five crucial points from guard Isaiah Salafia ’14 helped the Bulldogs to a 79–75 win.
One night later, the Bulldogs hosted the visiting Crimson. Senior guards Porter Braswell ’11, Raffi Mantilla ’11 and Alfonso Costa ’11 were honored before the contest. A visiting, excited Harvard student section and a packed Yale student section sent verbal barbs back and forth in what proved to be an intense and exciting matchup.
With the teams tied at 66, Yale forward Reggie Willhite ’12 drove into the paint and made a layup to put the Bulldogs up two. But Harvard guard Christian Webster converted a three-point play to put the Crimson up one. On the ensuing Yale possession, a perfect pass from Willhite to forward Jeremiah Kreisberg ’14 led to a layup. On the last possession of the game, Harvard guard Brandyn Curry tried a shot that rolled off the rim. The team and students rushed the floor, and Yale left with a 70–69 win.
The Bulldogs will look to keep up the intensity of last weekend as they travel to Cornell and Columbia. The weekend begins with a matchup against the Lions. Noruwa Agho, a second-team All-Ivy League player last season, leads Columbia with 16.1 points and 4.4 assists. However, in the game at Yale early in the season, the Bulldogs held Agho to only six points and forced him to commit six turnovers.
After reaching the Sweet Sixteen last season, former Cornell head coach Steve Donahue left for Boston College, and six of its seven leading scorers were lost to graduation. This season, the Big Red got off to a slow start, but they have surged as of late. The Bulldogs know they cannot take Cornell lightly, as last time these two teams matched up, Yale overcame a ten point deficit in the final two minutes to pull out a 71–70 victory.
This season, guard Chris Wroblewski has led Cornell, averaging 14.3 points and 5.7 assists. Teammate Drew Ferry led the Big Red with 18 points in their loss to Yale.
Regardless of the outcomes this weekend, the Bulldogs’ season will come to an end. With first and second place out of reach, the Bulldogs are playing for third place in the Ancient Eight. The Ivy League is the only conference in Division I basketball that does not conduct a postseason men’s basketball tournament, and Yale head coach James Jones thinks that this is a problem.
“Every game we’ve played in the League has been nine or less points,” head coach James Jones said. “That being said, it would be a great year to have a tournament because there are so many teams so close to each other, but que será, será.”
Without a tournament, the Elis will try to close with two wins. The Bulldogs’ matchup with Columbia will tip off at 7 p.m. Friday night. The team will then finish its season against Cornell on Saturday night at 7 p.m.