Bulldogs Head To Break On High Note; Rout Bryant 75-53

Michael Grace. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michael Grace. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Willhite Scores 17 Points To Lead Yale

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Yale men's basketball team will head into a 10-day break for final exams with a bunch of positive momentum. Reggie Willhite scored 17 points, two shy of his career high, as the Bulldogs won for the fourth time in their last five games, cruising to a 75-53 victory over Bryant at the Chace Athletic Center.

Willhite was 7-of-10 from field and led three players in double figures. Austin Morgan added 14 points and Greg Mangano had 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Yale (5-4) shot 52.8 percent from the field in the game and made 9-of-19 three-pointers.

The Bulldogs' bench also played a key role, contributing a season-high 24 points.

In fact, it was Yale's reserves that helped break open the game midway through the first half.

Isaiah Salafia hit one three-pointer and Sam Martin made two treys to turn a one-point lead into a nine-point advantage, 24-15, with 8:30 left.

"We're playing with a lot more confidence," said Martin, who finished with six points in 10 minutes off the bench. "Last game it was Raffi [Mantilla] who stepped up. Tonight it was Jeremiah [Kreisberg]. We're playing together. We're really a team."

"We got great contributions from the bench," said James Jones, The Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Men's Basketball. "Those guys really gave us the opportunity to push the lead out."

In his last four games, Martin, a West Warwick, R.I., native, is 7-of-10 from three-point range.

"I've been getting a lot of extra shots up in practice," said Martin, whose mother is a Bryant graduate. "I feel like I've found a pretty good rhythm."

Willhite made sure Yale stayed in control. Twelve of his points came in the opening 20 minutes as the Bulldogs built a 37-23 lead at the intermission. In his last four games, Willhite is averaging 14 points and shooting 58.8 percent from the field.

"I'm just trying to get to the middle where I can drive and play within the offense," he said.

Bryant (1-6) never got closer than 12 in the second half. Yale's biggest lead was 26 with 4:33 remaining. Willhite's emphatic alley-oop dunk off a pretty feed from Morgan put the exclamation point on the victory with 5:02 remaining.

"We certainly didn't think the game was over at halftime," Jones said. "We wanted to make sure we came out strong at the start of the second half."

Cecil Gresham scored 19 points to pace Bryant.

Kreisberg finished with seven points and five rebounds, and Michael Grace contributed six points and a steal in seven minutes.

The Bulldogs are off until Dec. 19 when they host Sacred Heart at 2 p.m. at Lee Amphitheater.

"It will be nice to have a little break," Willhite said. "We've been playing well, but we still had a couple of mental and physical lapses that we need to correct. It's nice to be able to learn from a win."

NOTES: Rhett Anderson returned to the starting lineup and contributed two points and four rebounds in 17 minutes… Yale held Bryant to 30.5 percent from the field in the game… The Bulldogs outrebounded Bryant 45-30…Yale has won its last two games by an average of 21.5 points… Freshman Jesse Pritchard grabbed a career-high five rebounds.

Report filed by Tim Bennett, Yale Sports Publicity